Food processors discuss new innovations in packaging products

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

At least 35 participants drawn from across the country on Tuesday began a two-day training on packaging and labelling of products at a ceremony held at the National Agricultural Research Institute NARI in Brikama, West Coast Region.

Organised by the National Coordinating Organisation for Farmer Associations-The Gambia {NACOFAG}, the training seeks to build the capacity of members in packaging and labelling to be able to set standard to be at par with international standard.

NACOFAG is a network of farmers and forest organisations in the country and the platform constitutes of 16 farmers and fisheries organisatons in The Gambia.

Addressing the gathering, Alieu Sowe, national coordinator of NACOFAG, disclosed that couple of months ago, they wrote a project proposal to FAO under their Forest and Farm Facility project and they were granted a sum of US 15,000 dollars to be able to implement certain activities, so as to build the capacity of their members.

The training, he went on, was in connection with that project proposal and that they have invited their members across the country.

“So as you can see majority of the participants are drawn from Sahelian Women in the Fight Against Drought and Hunger and the Federation of Gambian Cashew Farmers Association, National Youth Association for Food Security as well as Maize Growers Association with particular reference to CRR and URR among others.”

The objective of the training, he went on, was to build the capacity of members in the area of packaging and labelling, saying over the years, they have been supporting members in attending trade fairs.

“But what we have discovered is that there exists gaps in packaging and labelling in meeting international standard” he added.

Kanimang Camara,  the country facilitator of Forest Farm Facility, underscored the importance of the training and implored on participants to be steadfast in learning new innovations to market their products internationally.

For her part, Khaddy Bojang, agricultural director in the West Coast Region, expressed delight over the forum looking at the composition of the participants.

She acknowledged that in this day and age, their are new innovations in packaging and labelling products and called on participants to put into practise what they have learnt.

Bojang indicated that value addition is an integral component in processing system and that the knowledge gain from the training will help them alot in marketing their products to the international markets.

Deputysing for the director of Horticulture, Kan Saikou Ceesay, principal agriculture expert, said food processing is a top priority of the horticulture department, adding that the training came at a time when there is tough competition in labelling and packaging in the international market.

Ceesay challenged participants to put into practice what they have learnt during the training, pointing out that, value addition these days is full of new innovations and that for one to stay in the competition, one has to be innovative and committed.

He underscored the importance of keeping standard hygiene in food processing, noting that working under hygienic export one’s work both home and in the international front.

Seedu Bensouda, who spoke at the opening, echoed similar sentiments.

Author: Sheriff Janko