introduction of the groundnut (commonly known as the peanut) to
the Gambia was by the Portuguese in the 16th century from a Brazilian
species. Up until the 1830s it was grown by Gambians for domestic
consumption only and not for agricultural export. It was later
introduced in The Gambia by the British as a cash crop.
Just before the start of the rains farmers will clear their field
through the 'slash and burn' method then they brush their field
hopefully in time for the first rainfall. As soon as the rains
start the land is ploughed and the seed-nuts are sown. They are
often joined by the nawettanes from Guinea, Senegal and Mali.
The groundnut requires a minimum temperature of 24 °C and a minimum
rainfall of 750mm. After 3 to 4 years the soil is usually bereft
of anymore useful nutrients and unless farmers use fertiliser
they usually leave it to lie fallow.
Just before the end of the rainy season it is groundnut harvesting
time. The plants themselves are uprooted and laid on raised platforms
to dry out. Once dried out the plant is thrashed to release the
nuts. They are then winnowed in spinning passoires which are rotating
cylinders with holes in or meshed panniers. The nuts are then
weighed, graded and transported to various collection points around
Local Nut Consumption:
The local name for peanuts is gerte. Groundnuts are available
wholesale in the food market or in little bags by ladies on the
street, offered in a variety of styles, including roasted, salted,
sugar-coated, and sometimes boiled. They are also sold in small
tomato pot sizes for about D5.00 per pot. Groundnut shells are
used for fertilizer—you can witness the mounds and mounds of groundnut
refuse on the way to Banjul,
which are sometimes free for the taking. Unfortunately, the up-country
farmers who need the shells the most simply have no way of transporting
the mounds up the river.
development as a cash crop
export came about as a result of the fashionable use of soap in
Europe in the 19th century. (peanuts being soaps raw material
at the time).
In 1830 a total of 100 baskets was harvested which grew to 8,636
tonnes in 1848. By the 1850s groundnut production composed 2/3
of the colony's export total. New strains were introduced such
as such as the Rufisque / Rio Fresco.
In 1903, in order to prevent growers from eating their seed-nuts,
the British Government
stepped in to store, subsidise and distribute the groundnut
crop. In 1921 the British Government decided on a change of policy
and established the Department of Agriculture followed by foreign
advisers to organise seed storage as well as the establishment
of the Gambia Co-operative Union (GCU).
Following the drought of the early 1960s higher world prices of
the commodity as well as good harvests assisted the country after
its independence in 1965.
In 1973 the Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB) took over the
management of the crop by setting up collection depots, selling
low-cost fertilizers, buying points. Barges along the river transported
the groundnuts down from the up-country regions to Banjul.
Farmers were able to obtain credit from the Gambia Commercial
& Development Bank.
GPMB was later bankrupted and sold off to a company called Alimenta
S.A. in 1993 who re-named it the Gambia
Groundnut Corporation. In 1999 the government shut down
the company by presidential decree and it came under government
ownership. In July, 2008, (GIEPA) on behalf of the Government
of The Gambia invited tenders from consultants for the valuation
and technical assessment of the GGC prior to its intended privatisation.
The Premier Agro Oils Groundnut Industrial Complex Ltd (PAOGL)
located at the Denton Bridge, the GAMCO pressing plant operations.
Number of Employees