UNIDO WACOMP-GM trains NPPO staff onphytosanitary inspection
By Sulayman Waan
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the framework of West Africa Competitiveness Programme – The Gambia (WACOMP-GM) successfully concluded a 7-day training course in Phytosanitary Inspection and Certification on Sunday at Soma, Lower River Region (LRR).
The workshop, which mainly targeted staff of the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of The Gambia and the Plant Protection Services (PPS) forms part of UNIDO WACOMP-GM continued strive to strengthen the technical capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture in pursuance of its objective of increasing The Gambia’s competitiveness through enhanced quality and compliance along the onion value chain.
“In its endeavor to strengthen the technical capacities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and related services in the implementation of food quality and safety standards, UNIDO WACOMP-GM project has conducted several other trainings for the staff of the Agriculture Extension Services,” said Saikou Suwareh Jabai, national communications and visibility expert of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
He said that the project has also provided the PPS with field testing equipment and kits for monitoring contaminants such as heavy metals, aflatoxins and possible adulteration of certain food products. The field-testing equipment and kits, he added, include heavy metal and aflatoxin test kits, thermometer, refractometer, pH meter, palm oil tester among others.
Mr. Jabai said the cordial partnership and support which PSS has been benefiting from is expected to boost their institutional competence and consequently enhance the quality of their services.
He noted that phytosanitary inspection and certification activities contribute to the protection of agricultural resources of The Gambia. They also facilitate the country’s participation in international trade in plants and plant products, he added.
Momodou Lamin Darboe, regional agriculture director for LRR said to minimise the risk of introduction and spread of harmful pests in the country, plants and certain plant products are subjected to phytosanitary control. For the Plant Protection Services (PPS) to effectively execute this crucial mandate, he said there is a need to develop the institution’s capacity and provide them with relevant equipment.
He said: “… key among the Government’s aspirations in Agriculture is to attain nutritional food security and this cannot be achieved without a competent phytosanitary staff. This really makes this training very timely and significant.”
Speaking on behalf of participants, Dr. Ismaila Mbenga commended UNIDO WACOMP-GM and the European Union (EU) for the initiative. He said the training methodology allowed them to effectively learn through both theoretical and practical sessions in the field. He expressed renewed optimism that the lessons learnt will be shared with their colleagues and utilised to meet the project’s expectations.