Gambia seeks to drive farmers earning with new food safety measures

A new bill is about to be sent to the Parliament in a new effort to improve the quality of Gambia’s peanuts and give farmers a competitive advantage in the international market.

The country’s Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang said poisonous carcinogens that are produced by certain molds have affected peanut and vegetable farming in the country and proposed an amendment to the Food Safety and Quality Amendment Bill.

The amendment will see the introduction of a National Aflatoxin Control Act and an investment plan for farmers. It will also bring about more food safety and quality control enforcement.

“Doing so would reduce contamination of agricultural products and increase economic opportunities for Gambian farmers, given that groundnuts are the country’s main cash crop,” Tambajang said.

Gambia’s peanut export have dwindled due to fear of contamination by molds and bacteria. Gambian farmers are one of the poorest in the region and do not have enough financial support for fertilizers and pesticides.

Agricultural revenue to the country’s GDP has taken a nosedive. Most farmers have turned to subsistence farming. Young workers have dropped farming and turned to service sector for jobs, goading migration to urban centers.

“The Executive will soon present the bill to the Gambian National Assembly for enactment. Once passed, it will provide the legal environment to protect agricultural products and make them viable to compete in the international market,” said Press Secretary Amie Bojang-Sissoho.

The police on Monday shutdown and brought in for questioning two senior management officers of the country’s major soft drink producer, Banjul Breweries for alleged using expired ingredients in their products.

There has been widespread concern that expired food products, especially rice and chicken have been imported into the country. The Food Safety Authority said it has been doing regular market and laboratories checks of products coming into the country.

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