The economic collapse caused by the pandemic highlights the fatal impact of cheap agricultural imports on the Gambian domestic market.
According to a report by an EU-funded study by the International Trade Organization from 2018, about two-thirds of Gambia’s consumption of eggs and chicken meat is covered by imports. Domestic production of 500 tons per year is offset by over 1,000 tons of imports, and for eggs alone we are talking about imports of over 20 million eggs. (https://www.intracen.org/uploadedFiles/intracenorg/Content/Redesign/Projects/YEP/poultry.pdf)
Large trading companies, mainly from Brazil but also from the EU and Germany, dominate the trade. The imported eggs are offered at dumping prices of 5 euro cents per piece. In order to cover at least the production costs, we have to sell the eggs produced in our Gambian Youth Project for 8 euro cents per piece.
If, on top of that, the Corona pandemic causes a lack of demand from tourist hotels – this sales market accounts for around 46% of total consumption nationwide – traders and producers will undercut each other. As a result, we are currently no longer able to cover our production and sales costs for eggs in the training center.
As an agricultural training project, we cannot do without poultry farming. This forms an important part of a wide-ranging education. We can compensate for the deficits generated by laying hens with the contribution margins from vegetable and fruit production. Apart from that, the chicken manure produced during poultry farming is indispensable for soil fertilization in vegetable production. The holistic approach of our agricultural training project in Ballingho, Gambia, is paying off. The trainees also learn this.
To meet the challenges posed by cheap agricultural imports, we are continuing to diversify. We have added pomiculture and are building up the infrastructure for aquaculture. This enables us to produce as widely as possible and cover the losses incurred in one product area with the contribution margins generated in other areas.
Our appeal: Stop the madness of cheap agricultural exports
This is addressed to the EU agricultural policy makers: Do not destroy what is to be built up with development aid. Production and processing chains in these countries must be promoted and protected in the development stage. In times of pandemic, cheap imports once again highlight the enormous threat to sustainable economic development in the country. The Gambia cannot fight against 5 cent eggs. And that is just one example. Unfortunately