By Ousainou J Sawaneh (PrinCE OjeE)
The Gambia component of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP-GM), is participating in the 15th edition of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) International Trade Fair at Bijilo.
The fair, which attracted over 450 participants from the ECOWAS region, Europe and Asia, began on the 26th February and is expected to conclude on the 27th March 2022.
With the theme “Accelerating Intra-Africa Trade for the realisation of AFCFTA through innovation”, the platform availed participants the opportunity to network and promote their goods and services.
With funding from the European Union, WACOMP-GM is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and United Purpose (UP). The project is increasing The Gambia’s competitiveness through enhanced quality compliance along the onion value chain by improving the performance, growth and contribution to industry, regional trade and exports of onion and other horticulture value chain.
Both organizations jointly facilitated stalls for onion producers and the marketing federation representatives to promote locally produced onions and allied crops, and create the much-needed market linkages.
The National Horticulture Value Chain Expert of UNIDO WACOMP, Mr. Malamin Drammeh, said as part of WACOMP’s initiative to increase quality compliance in the onion value chain, it will create market linkages for growers of onion and allied crops to meet potential buyers.
WACOMP’s participation in the trade fair, he said, is one of the many strives they will embark on to create more platforms for their beneficiaries.
“We will support onion producers through various post-harvest activities including the construction facilities for curing and storage in conformity with best practices,” said Drammeh.
Ms. Ngansa Touray, the Project Manager of UP component of WACOMP, expressed delight over the rainy season variety of the onions which are on sale at the trade fair for the first time in recent history.
This is a breakthrough, she said, adding that will promote year-round onion production as WACOMP seeks to achieve.
Jimbi Ceesay, the President of National Vegetable Growers Association (Sosalaso), expressed gratitude to UNIDO and UP for the initiative and European Union for funding the project, saying it will go a long way in helping vegetable growers to promote their produce, network and learn from other participants at the trade fair.
Jimbi and other participants at WACOMP stall sold their produce and secured markets for those they are yet to harvest.
“This is a huge empowerment for women. We have learned a lot since we came here and we have sold our goods too. We have now been introduced to the use of measurement in the marketing of our produce and this has increased our profits,” she rejoiced.
Another WACOMP participant, Maimuna Jabang of Pirang Mansa Garden, thanked UNIDO and UP for providing such an opportunity to them. She called on fellow onion producers to adhere to standards and promote the rainy season onion variety for an all-year-round production.