The Deputy Director General in his introduction remarks; thanked all present for coming to the meeting which was scheduled within a short notice. After introducing Mr. Jabel Sowe, board chairman of Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency (GLMA) he went on to applaud the strong bond that exists between GLMA and all the groups along the livestock commercialisation value chain based on mutual understanding and trust. He challenged the livestock marketing value chain actors to also extend invitation to GLMA to attend their meetings in the spirit of partnership. We (GLMA) called for this emergence meeting due to numerous calls and information reaching the agency concerning the price increase of meat. As you may know GLMA is instituted by an Act of parliament and given the powers to set price for livestock and livestock products including meat and since the year 2010 GLMA and has never exploited that power knowing that so many people’s livelihoods in this country depend on this trade. He went on to say “as difficult as it was to work during the former president Yaya Jammeh’s rule, the agency has always use the consultation approach where issues are discussed and agreements are reached in the best interest of businesses and consumers”. He recalls that price of meat has never been a problem in the Gambia until when Yaya Jammeh the former president started to meddle into livestock trade and butchery. He told the gathering that Gambian people are anticipating good to follow the change of government we were all looking for, but of recent the nation was griped by lack of bread-----the bakeries went on strike which was not base on any tangible reason. “Now again people complaining high price of meat-----what is the cause”? He asked.
As the board chairman of GLMA, I consider your move by increasing meat price as an individual decision base on no tangible reasons; only there is scarcity of cattle in the market should not be the driving force for meat price increases, but instead should be a pointer to lead you to the appropriate authorities for redress. I expect you to call on GLMA on issues affecting your business since it is the institution/agency mandated by Act of parliament to regulate the commercialisation of livestock and livestock products in this country. In the GLMA Act there are laws if applied will bring havoc, but those laws are never applied because GLMA management desire your wellbeing and belief in dialogue and consultation for the good of all. You are giving excuse that there are no cattle for sale in Senegal, we have all seen the president of Senegal on Senegalese TV sympathising with farmers at one point for the lost/death of their livestock in numbers. We as an institution are aware, but when eventualities like this happen, you are expected to go into consultation with your partners before unilaterally deciding for yourself. This he said was the reason so many people were dismissed or jailed during the former president’s time. He said the reason was most of the time we are acting on incomplete or incorrect information. You should know that your actions send false information to the authorities. Weekly meat price setting is under the purview of the agency and that being the case it is the agency’s responsibility also to inform the general public through media outlets rather you increase prices unknowing to the public. He warns that everyone should be responsible in their area of work. Mr. Cham in his closing remarks thank the participants for the truthful and fruitful discussions only that it would have been more appropriate to have this dialogue before the price increase he said. “We are all concern about the welfare of the people of the Gambia as you may know the average Gambian’s buying power is very very low and being the case small increase in price of commodities is a huge constraint on our pockets”. “I must thank you (butchers), even where there is no price control, price of meat has been stable for two to three years before this increment and this was achieved due to the annual before-month of Ramadan consultation meeting we have with you to make meat available and affordable for the population.
Said “the trend is that immediately after the month of Ramadan there is a period when cattle become scares and price of meat increases but it is much server this year, meat-price increase has prolonged to the notice of the larger consumer group. This he said was due to the inadequate rain fall experienced last year, that farmers in Senegal lost many livestock due to feed scarcity. That he went to Bambay (he is a dealer and as well a butcher) to buy cattle but he came back without a single head of cattle. He said at Bambay farmers are not bringing cattle to the market, the only animals (cattle) available at this time are those fattened, which he said are priced beyond their capacity. He said the price of meat is higher in Senegal than in the Gambia and dealers of both countries source cattle from the same market and Gambian dealers are further constraint due to the high exchange rate of the CFA. He also stresses that Gambian dealers pay more overhead expenses which he said are all reasons for the increment in meat price. (a kilogram of meat & bone is selling for D225 and steak for D275 as oppose to the price given by Amadou Gaye). He claims that those butchers who have not increase meat price as yet are mixing cheap imported liver with meat from their slaughter and sell at normal price to avoid losses.