asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Sierra Leone Government, under the Defence Regulations last year, bought from ginger farmers of Sierra Leone the whole of their dried ginger crop at £30 per ton f.o.b. Freetown, although at the time British firms were quoting £92 10s. f.o.b. Freetown for this crop, whilst Syrian buyers were offering £80 per ton f.o.b. then; and whether he will ensure either that equitable prices are paid by the Government for the 1943 crop or that farmers are permitted to benefit by the high prices by private sales?
During 1941, very little West African ginger could be imported into this country, although the demand was keen. Therefore, before control was assumed by the Ministry of Food, prices in this country were high, but could only be paid in respect of small quantities. The price received by the producers for the remainder of the crop went as low as £10 a ton. The Sierra Leone Government, with the object of assisting the producer, therefore decided to purchase the whole 1942 crop at a figure of £30 per ton to the producer, and to recoup themselves from sales to the Ministry of Food. These sales exceeded expectations, so that the Sierra Leone Government have secured a profit. The disposal of this profit for the benefit of the producers is now under consideration. For the year 1943, the producer will receive £40 per ton and the ginger will be bought from the Sierra Leone Government by the West African Produce Control Board. After the 1941 crop private sales were discontinued.