By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Standards Bureau in collaboration with the EbA Project has kick-started an initiative to develop standards on local Gambian teas aimed at making The Gambia an integral part of the international supply chain.
The initiative which forms part of a six-year large scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project will support entrepreneurs in local tea products such as moringa, kinkiliba, jambakatang, honey and baobab to ensure they are standardised and internationally acceptable in value and quality to be able to access international markets.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of a sub-committee tasked with the development of standards on local teas at a local hotel in Kololi, the Gambia Standards Bureau director general Papa Secka, disclosed that these herbal teas have been in use in the Senegambia region for over a century but they were never standardised which prevented them from penetrating the international market.
He said these among others, led to the signing of a memorandum between his institution and the EbA Project for them to develop standards and improve the overall value chain for specific local teas.
“These products, especially moringa and mborr-mborr are in a very high demand because the world has discovered their diverse benefits. In fact, the Europeans were amazed to discover the values of baobab and its unique and diverse properties, nutrients and uses. In the UK they now call baobab the super fruit of the world and they are making it into capsules because of its beneficial goods for diabetic patients.
According to Mr Secka such products can only be outsourced from the West African sub-region since they are not grown in Europe.
“Baobab is now so expensive and gets very scarce due to the high demand. For us to leverage on these products and hit the global markets, it is important to ensure that the products that we produce, process and export are made in a way that their ingredients and qualities are maintained,” he said.
Director Secka said the initiative will work to ensure the herbal tea value chain is standardised, certified and accredited in accordance with international standards.
“It will also help capacitate local enterprises on standardised storage, processing and packaging to make sure the standards are correctly applied,” he added.
Dr Kebba Sima, the monitoring and evaluation officer for the EbA Project told The Standard on the sidelines of the event that, there is a need for all our natural resource products to be standardised to contribute to our own health as people and also compete at the international level.