Jun 1, 2010, 3:55 PM
A two-day training on food safety, animal and plan health inspectors' information is currently underway at the NaNA Conference Hall. The forum, which kicked-off yesterday, is organised by the West African Quality Programme, in collaboration with the National Codex, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee, with support from the FAO.
In his opening remarks, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, the Permanent Secretary at the said Ministry, Mr. Amadou Saine described food safety and animal health as very important export products for The Gambia. He noted that fish and fishery products are important export products for The Gambia, thus constituting a vital source of foreign exchange for the country.
Mr. Saine went on to urge the various sector of the government to play their role by working together to monitor the safety of food production and processing operation through inspection, and by working with food producers and vendors to improve their operation.
Deputising for the FAO Representative, Dr Londa Vanderwal said food safety, animal and plant health are increasingly important issues in The Gambia, as evident by the large number of people who took part in the forum. She noted that effective inspection in these areas is essential to ensuring a safer and more abundant food supply in The Gambia by protecting plants, animals, as well as humans from diseases.
She added that for Gambian producers, fisher folk and processors to take advantages of lucrative exports markets, the government must establish a strong and effective inspection and certificate system.
She further noted that the importance of this inspection was recognised by the national codex, sanitary and phytosanitary committee who organise this forum with the support of FAO and the West African Quality Programme in early September this year, aimed at assessing the inspection and certificate system in The Gambia.
The Co-ordinator, West Africa Quality Programme, Mr. Joseph Ndenn said the purpose of the forum is to strengthen competitiveness and ensuring compliance with trade rules and regulations, in particular the WTO, TBT and SPS agreements by upgrading existing regional and national quality infrastructure.
The WHO Representative, Dr Thomas Sukwa also expressed delight in associating with the forum, which he added, is geared towards strengthening the knowledge and experience of inspectors working in the area of food safety, animal and plant health.