By Muhammed Sailu Bah
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE), under the Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project (SCEDP) of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), has handed over packaging machines and other related items worth more than D700, 000 to three enterprises in the cashew sector.
The event was held on Thursday, 16 July, 2015, at the Trade Ministry in Banjul where Mr. Abdou Jobe, the Trade Minister, handed over the materials to Mr. Modou Ceesay, CEO Gambia Horticulture Enterprise, on behalf of the beneficiaries.
In his statement, the Minister of Trade described the handing over as another milestone in the implementation of the EIF funded SCEDP.
Minister Jobe said the SCEDP aims to strengthen targeted sector competiveness, promote new business opportunities in domestic, regional and international markets, in addition generate additional income as well as create employment.
“The project Targets agric sector support for cashew nuts, groundnuts and sesame, as well as inclusive tourism. The key focus is to find export opportunities, product diversification, improved value addition, quality enhancement and strengthen sector support for institutions,” dilated Minister Jobe.
According to Minister Jobe, the SCEDP is one of the three projects funded by the enhanced integrated Framework (EIF) Programme. He said the others are the Tier 1 and Tier 2 projects. The Tier 1 project, he said, gives support to National Implementation Arrangements to build the capacity of the National Implementation Unit (NIU) and trade related institutions, to deal effectively and efficiently with trade policy development and implementation, trade integration and facilitation for the greater benefit of the Gambian economy. He said the Tier 2 is Trade Facilitation through increased logistics infrastructure and services at the Banjul international airport. He added that this is to promote trade facilitation and enforce logistics infrastructure and services at Banjul international Airport, through improved institutional arrangements, building Human capacity and providing support to ensure transparent, secure and competitive airport services that are available to exports and small holder businesses.
According to the trade minister, the project is at an advanced stage of building a modern cargo complex with the latest technology to handle cargo.
“This handing over is a significant achievement towards our drive to improve our product standards and improve market access. I also thank everyone involved to make this possible. In addition, I would like to advise the beneficiary to make good use of the equipment to improve their businesses,” concluded Minister Jobe.
In her remarks, Naffie Barry, the Permanent Secretary MOTIE, said the items consist of continuous sealing machine with coding system, and Gas flushing device with Packaging Materials such as Zip-lock plastic pouch to improve the quality and look of their product.
Madam Barry highlighted the importance of having good quality packaging which will be able to make the products more attractive and presentable to the Local and international markets.
She announced the 3 enterprises which are the beneficiaries as the Cashew Company Limited in Brikama, Gambia Horticulture Enterprise (GHE) in old Jeshwang and Jawneh and Family Cashew Processing Center also in Brikama.
“A professionally designed and self-adhesive labels and barcodes are also provided in 50g, 100g, 200g, 500g, and 1kg sizes,” said Madam Barry.
In receiving the items on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr. Ceesay of GHE thanked the Trade Ministry for the gesture and said the items would help them improve their products.
Mr. Ceesay noted that these were some of the challenges they were facing in their work but that now the ministry has helped in providing equipment and materials to them.
He reiterated the tremendous support they are getting from the project.
Mr. Ceesay noted that the processed cashew is 10 times more valuable than the raw cashew nut, about 99% of which is all exported and only one percent is left for processing.
He highlighted the high cost of the raw cashew nuts and express concern on improving on that issue. Mr. Ceesay said cashew processing has the advantage of creating employment and assured that they would make the best use of the machines and other donated Items.
He further thanked the Ministry, as well as the project steering committee, for their efforts in galvanizing cashew production in the Gambia.
In her closing remarks, Mama Saho, Project Steering Committee Chairperson, further urged the beneficiaries to make best use of the donated items and expressed the hope that the donated items would go a long way in enhancing cashew production.
The event was chaired by Bai Ibrahim Jobe, EIF Project Coordinator.