By Awa B. Bah
A four day training programme for rural women on processing of forest and horticulture products ended up in Jenoi Agricultural Center in the Lower River Region.
The training organized by the NEMA project P2R under the Ministry of Natural Resource was meant to equip rural women with skills and knowledge on how to process and transform forest and horticulture fruits and leaves into finished and consumable products such as juice, jam, powder, cream, etc. This is the second batch of thirty women drawn from the four regions of NBR, LRR, CRR and URR to expose them on the protection and management of forest and natural resources.
In his welcoming address, Saikou Sonko representing the Regional Forestry Officer LRR commended the women in their forest and farm commitments. He said women have played big roles in the advancement of our forest and farm facilities as they are important in this sector. The forest, he said, is very important and that Women have been v committed in this sector. He assured their full support to the women in farm and forest activities. He urged the participants to make best use of the resource persons.
In his introductory remarks, Babanding Sanyang, forest focal point under the NEMA P2R project, noted the formidable roles played by women in the protection and promotion of the forest. Sanyang called on the women to be active when it comes to preserving the forest and natural resources. Women, he said, need to get fully engaged in the promotion and management of our natural resources as they have all the support from both sides. He revealed that the project is ready to build their capacity and fight for the welfare of women in the management of our natural resources. He called on more women to participate in forest activities as they can help influence positively in the development of our fauna and flora. He urged the participants to make good use of the knowledge and skills gained as it will positively impact on their lives. Forest and farm products, he said, are seasonal and processing them into finished future products will greatly reduce losses during harvest, transportation and marketing.
The lead trainer Bakoto Jobe-Mboge challenged the women to take the forest and farm activities seriously as they are key in the family, while calling for unity amongst women in forest development. The training, she said, will go a long way in empowering women in the agricultural sector as it is the richest sector of the country. Food processors, she said, are not playing enough roles to ensure high marketability. She urged the participants to focus and make good use of the resource persons. She reminded the participants that everybody cannot work in government offices but can earn more than what government workers are earning from other sectors like agriculture. She indicated that the training can boost processing which still remains a big challenge.
Alhagie Basse Mboge President of the Gambia National Framers Platform remarked that women are known for their hard work in the agricultural sector as they grow vegetables to feed the nation. He said that farmers and producers of food from agricultural products should build their capacity on production for sale in markets like supermarkets and hotels. Markets, he said, need more organized and well packaged food to sell out to consumers. Most of their produce, she said, perish as a result of lack of knowledge on processing and how to store it for further use. She assured that the knowledge gained will be put into good use.
Other speakers were Sulayman Jagne assistant focal point NEMA P2R, Mickey Jawla NEMA field coordinator, LRR.