By Hatab Nyang / Louise Jobe
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has officially handed over the Thiaroya Fish smoking facility to women fish smokers of Gunjur on Wednesday 1st August 2018, at Gunjur Beach.
James F. Gomez, the Minister of Fisheries in his remarks, appreciated to be associated with the official handing over of the improved fish smoking facility to the women of Ginjur; that the Gunjur Community Fisheries Center is one of the biggest and important fish landing sites on the Gambian coast line; that the landing site serves not only the country, but the sub region as well.
Gomez said Government is aware of the importance and potential role of artisanal fishing in the socio economic development of the country and have supported the development and expansion of the sub-sector, over time. He applauded the FAO for providing an improved Fish Smoking facility that uses less wood during fish smoking; emits less smoke and will allow the women to inhale less smoke, compared to the current methods employed; that the level of carcinogens in smoked products are significantly reduced with the improved quality fish smoking facility.
Gomez said Government is committed to reducing poverty and improve the well-being of the population; that this commitment is driven by Government’s National Development plan 2018 to 2021; that the Project will be implemented within seventeen communities along the Coast of the country and it is estimated that scores of people will benefit from it.
Dr. Perpetua Katepa Kalala, the FAO representative said the fisheries sector in the country has significant potentials to increase it’s contribution to the nation’s socio economic development, that it is a dynamic sector with various value chain actors operating a variety of small and micro enterprises or business activities that support their livelihoods; that there’s work to be done but they are committed to work with people through the Government of the Gambia.
Dr Katepa Kalala said according FAO statistics, fisheries and agriculture is a major sector for food security and nutrition as global production of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals continues to grow and reached 170.9 millions tonnes in 2016; that of this total, captured production was 90.9 million tonnes; that aqua-culture production was 80 million tonnes in 2016 growing by 5.2 percent from previous years.
Dr Kalala said although fishing is predominantly the role of men in the Gambia, women have a central and crucial role in the sector as women occupy the post-harvest sector by forming the link between fish capture and consumption; that fish smoking techniques are traditionally based on open kilns using fire wood as the main source of fuel, which are highly energy inefficient, release contaminants and dependent on fire wood; that this has been a significant driver of the degradation of forests and mangroves in the country; that increasingly scares supplies and high cost of fire wood, leaves women fish smokers indiscriminately using other inappropriate alternative fuels such as cartons, in fish smoking operations. The FAO representative said the practice introduces toxic substances onto smoked products in defiant of food safety requirements, with medium to long term health implications in addition; that it exposes operators to health risks from toxic fumes emitted in the process; that to overcome the challenges posed by such inefficiencies, FAO engages a collaborative undertaken with the National Training Center for fish and Aquaculture Technicians, CNFTPA, in Senegal, and designed and validated the Thiaroye Fish Processing Technique or FTT; that the FTT was pioneered by FAO and has been developed to improve energy efficiency, by using less wood fuel, compared to traditional open smoking rafts.