Jan 21, 2016, 10:00 AM
A stakeholders’ consultative forum on food safety and quality was recently inaugurated at a ceremony held at NaNA conference hall in Bakau.
The forum was inaugurated in accordance with the Food Safety and Quality Act No.7 of 2011 which established the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia and its attendant structures.
The aim of the consultative meeting was to foster cooperation between the authority and stakeholders in food safety, quality and risks.
According to officials of the authority, the stakeholders’ consultative forum shall be responsible for making sure that stakeholders’ views and concerns are taken into account with regard to food safety in the country.
Speaking at the event, the director general of Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia, Dr Kebba Daffeh, said the inauguration of the stakeholders’ consultative forum is one of the key structures of the newly established Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) which has for the first time provided stakeholders with the right of representation in the governance of food safety controls in The Gambia.
Dr Daffeh further stated that food safety controls in The Gambia have been covered by a number of different institutions and different legal instruments.
Prior to the establishment of the Authority, he noted, there were no overall structures for governance of food safety control by the government.
Dr Daffeh said controls system for food safety then was significantly under-resourced and were not supported by strong scientific and technical management.
“Taking this background into consideration, the establishment of the Food Safety and Quality Authority by the Government of The Gambia is therefore commendable,” he said.
The Food Safety and Quality Act of 2011 provided a strengthened framework for control in line with modern principles, he said, adding that the food safety and quality authority is a totally new framework for The Gambia as it is the first of its kind both in Act and in mechanism.
For his part, the chairperson of the FSQA, Muhammed Sillah, recalled that the board of FSQA was inaugurated in December 2012 by the Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy.
According to him, at the moment, the immediate priority of the board is to ensure the establishment and operationalisation of the structures of the Authority.
He also said the rationale behind the establishment of the forum was basically to ensure stakeholders’ views and concerns are taken into account with regard to food and food safety in The Gambia.
In his official opening remarks, the deputy permanent secretary at the Office of the Vice President, Abdoulie Bah, said the FSQA of The Gambia, is one of the institutions under the office of the vice president and ministry responsible for women’s affairs.
According to him, the authority was established by an act of parliament in 2001 and started operation on1 July 2013.
He expressed confidence that members of the forum would no doubt work effectively to live up to expectations, while thanking them for their willingness to serve in the stakeholders’ consultative forum.
He was quick to remind members of the task that lies ahead of them, saying “the responsibilities of members of the Stakeholders Consultative Forum are by no way small”.