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.
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.
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
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 The Gambia.
Local Nut Consumption:
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.
Its 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
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 &
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.
Tonnes Per Day:
Number of Employees