Developing added value in Gambia

Fishermen in Gambia. © sxc / wootz

In October 2009, R. Shotton, expert with the SFP programme and specialist on aid to the smallscale fisheries sector, undertook a mission to Gambia. He observed how Gambia’s small-scale fisheries sector supplies pelagic fish that is subsequently dried, smoked and dispatched to national and regional markets. The other major activity consists of targeting species with a high commercial value (prawns, cuttlefish, spiny lobsters, sole and other percidae species) for which there is an active market in Dakar and that could be sold in Europe at a high price.

While fishers associations play an essential commercial and social role, in most cases they lack resources. Given the risk of Gambian produce being refused entry to European markets, no national sector player is prepared to invest in exports. As a result, the sector suffers from under-capitalisation.

The expert found that various levels of aid could be provided. Fishers associations could be strengthened at the purely administrative level. Upstream, the availability of isothermal crates for dug-out canoes and at catch
landing sites would be welcome. It would also be desirable to put into place a system of registration for dug-outs and a fish auction site. Finally, at the processing level, there is a need to provide training for factory workers on sanitary issues and product quality.

Dr John Ryder, who also visited Gambia in December 2009, concentrated on the processing of fishery products after landing. The aim of his mission was to lend assistance to the Gambian industry by appraising and giving advice on the infrastructure of establishments (factory design and lay-out), pre-requisite
programmes and HACCP systems. Gambia has seven approved processing establishments carrying out primary processing operations (filleting, skinning, etc.). Factory design and lay-out as well HACCP operations and approach are all fields where there appears to be room for improvement in all the factories.

Improved access to written documentation (manuals and archives) is also needed at all establishments.

All management teams were provided with a detailed report. Comments and annotations on the appropriate documents (factory modification plans, pre-requisite programme manuals, risk analysis sheets, HACCP plans, etc.) were provided.

In conclusion, the report highlights opportunities for subsequent actions by the SFP programme, whether for treating the various surfaces in the processing factories, supplying and developing guides (hygiene, etc.),
improvements to the HACCP, traceability, training and identification of sources of financing, intervention by the competent authorities or laboratory accreditation.