By Nelson Manneh
Fishmongers in Kartong village have over the weekend called on stakeholders to help them with storage facilities in order to preserve their fish products.
These women who spoke to this medium said they strive hard to make ends meet at their fish mongering site. They lamented the need for a storage facility to be built in order to improve their working conditions as well as to preserve their post-production.
The Kartong fish smoking facility is located at the border crossing point of Kartong village and the Southern Senegal Region of Cassamance. The trade plays a major role in the socio-economic development of the country, enhancing the livelihoods of many women who are engaged in fish smoking at the facility.
In the fisheries sector, the role of women is paramount as they operate at all levels of the value chain, participating in the promotion of sustainable fishing through the processing of fisheries products in reducing the environmental pollution generated by their activities.
Amie Jeng, a fishmonger, said the structure and their ovens are old now and need proper maintenance. She explained that out of 24 ovens, only 6 are functional at the moment.
“The fish we process at the site are transported to Basse and other parts of the country by wholesale,” she said.
Yamudow Touray, another woman who is in the business, said the facility has been used by women for about 35 years and needs to be refurbished.
“They contribute some amount of money monthly to support and sustain their business. When the facility was built no money was allocated for the women to run it,” she added.
The principal fisheries assistant at the landing site in Kartong Village, Aisatou Bajan Bojang said the facility was erected by her department through the European Development Fund and that the aim of the project was to train women on fish smoking.
She stressed that the importance of the facility is to enhance the socio-economic well-being of its beneficiaries.
Madam Bojang said they are advocating for stakeholders to help them build modern ovens so that they can stop using coconut shells, cartons, and firewood which generate a lot of smoke. She however dispelled reports about the usage of sniper chemicals by fish smokers.
“We don’t even know how snipers can be used to smoke fish. We still use firewood, cartons, and other local materials to smoke fish,” she disclosed.
Meanwhile, to meet the challenges of adding value to fisheries resources, women processors at Kartong village benefited from capacity-building programs on good processing practices and techniques, as well as good practices for managing the quality and hygiene of fisheries products.