By Madi S. Njie
Papa Secka, the Director General of Gambia Standards Bureau (GSB), has unveiled that the country lacks food testing machines, as a result of which many locally produced foods cannot be exported to the international markets.
He was however quick to say that efforts are underway to have food testing machines in the Gambia, for the country to be able to export her food products.
Mr. Secka was speaking at the opening ceremony of the information sharing session on the role of the Bureau and national quality infrastructure with Members of the National Assembly held at a local Hotel on 31st October 2019, as part of commemorations of World Standards Day.
Secka said Gambia faces immense challenges and that the EU in June 2019, reminded Government to address these challenges particularly in terms of groundnut export; that the country’s main cash crop which has declined in quality over the past decades, is due mainly to lack of quality processing. He said there is need for the Bureau to harness these challenges on groundnut marketing and processing and promote the sector more efficiently.
He described inadequate sensitization on these challenges as an undermining factor not only for the groundnut industry, but for all locally produced food items that can be exported; that the purpose of the session is to share with National Assembly Members the role of and the work done by the Bureau and to identify other areas in order to contribute to national development. He said the session is meant to provide information to NAMs to share with their people at the level of their various Constituencies.
Secka said the Bureau was established by an Act of Parliament in 2010 and emphasized the need to disseminate this information to the public.
On his part, Kebba Secka on behalf of the Majority Leader reiterated that GSB was established in 2010 to take care of the health of the Nation.
He welcomed the idea of disseminating information through NAMS, but said the major concern of the groundnut sector is aflatoxin. Hestressed the need for the bureau to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture to tackle aflatoxin and food poisoning through standards enhancement and described the workshop as timely. Secka said this is the beginning of their collaboration with the bureau and assured them of their support to enhance standards of food production and processing in the country.
Hassoum Gaye, a representative from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment expressed the need for the country’s food processing standards to be internationally recognised. He said there is need to ensure that the country’s processed food products are in line with international standards if we want to make any break through at the international market. He assured his Ministry’s resolve to continue supporting the Gambia Standards Bureau and further said that the country’s agriculture sector needs to compete at the international level by adopting to globally accepted food processing standards; that the Gambia is currently working to have food safety testing standards in order to avoid taking country’s food products to other countries for testing, before they can be finally exported.
Sambujang Drammeh, the Marketing and Communications Officer at the Standards Bureau chaired the opening ceremony.
At the end of the event, presentation on standardization, conformity assessment and metrology was done by Amadou G. Jallow, Awa Jeng and Papa Secka who are all staff of the Gambia Standards Bureau.