The Gambia Standards Bureau in collaboration with the West Africa Competitive Programme (WACOMP) Monday inaugurated a technical sub-committee to work on the development of national standards for onion, sweet potato, tomato and chili pepper to enhance their value and quality as well as gain international recognition.
The standardisation program is part of a European Union (EU) funded project under the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Speaking at the inaugural meeting, the director of standardisation at the Gambia Standards Bureau Ebrima Jallow, said onion, sweet potato, tomato and pepper have been produced in the country for many decades but the country doesn’t gain much both nationally and internationally because they are not standardised.
“The onions that we produce here cannot sustain us as a country and we continue to import while we cannot export as other countries are doing. We also produce a lot of tomatoes and they get rotten because we cannot have markets. Standardising will help address these challenges associated with the value chain and it will protect both producers and the consumers,” Jallow said.
He said the initiative will provide standards for the pre and post-harvest methods to ensure the products are certified to access international markets.
UNIDO’s project administrator, Christian LASSER thanked the EU for the financial support through the WACOMP project.
He expressed the organisation’s commitment to support the technical capacity of the Bureau to develop on standards.
According to Mr. Lasser, the project is being implemented in Ecowas member states with different value chains selected in each country to be nationally and regionally enhanced in line with the ACFTA.
“The Gambia national component is a very important aspect of UNIDO’s technical cooperation and is one of the few first interventions UNIDO has in the Gambia and we have achieved remarkable targets of the project. We are also going to support the construction of storage facilities, equipping different institutions with laboratory equipment in order to help conformity assessment and different standardisation achievements.”