Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Golden Lead fish meal company clears the air

Golden Lead fish meal processing company in Gunjur comes out in public through this press release amidst unprecedented criticisms on the social media on deteriorating environmental management pointed to the company and the corresponding visits and inspections from different government institutions.

With this press release, we also represent the fish meal industry which is in its infancy stage in the Gambia.

We deem it necessary to clarify the issues and assure the public of our strong commitment to the development of The Gambia and protection of its natural resources on which our sustainability depends as a business.

The social media created doubts on the legitimacy of our business. We assure you that Golden Lead is a Gambian company as we are established only in the Gambia. We came into being through a legitimate process that begun from the investment promotion efforts of the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), it is through this process that we have legitimately acquired licenses to operate from the Ministry of Fisheries, National Environment Agency, Food Safety and Quality Authority and the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry, and Employment. The process we went through in this country ultimately enabled us to acquire the Export Processing Zone License to operate and export.

State of Gambia fishing industry and the role of Chinese company

By Lamin JS Fatajo

This article is aimed to contribute to the ongoing concerns of Gambian about over exploitation of our national resources notably the fisheries resources. On the contrary, this is not in any way suggesting that we should not rise up to stop unlawful acts detrimental to our coastline communities and the nation as a whole nor is it in defence of any Chinese company purportedly responsible for destruction of the natural resources.

Rather it’s to present analysis of national data on fisheries and fish resources as well as synopsis of interviews conducted with some community members of Gunjur and Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd factory workers. 

The Gambia artisanal sector creates employment for an estimated 200,000 Gambians, 70 % of which depends on the small pelagic species for livelihood. The small pelagic species for which data is available include Sardinella Aurita - Yaboy Maroc, Sardinella Maderensis-Yaboy Tass, Ethmalosa Fimbriata- Kobo comprising the sardinella species;  Decapterus spp, Scomber japonicas and Trachurus trecae. The total production of this species was estimated at 45,294mt in 2016 with sardinella species accounting for 88%.

Fish by nature are migratory, small pelagic fish and other fish within the Gambian waters traverse from Moroccan waters in the north to Congolese waters in the south. Fish surveys have revealed that small pelagic resources are concentrated in the waters of the North coastal countries (Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal) in the Months of May, June and July and migrating to the south (The Gambia and Southern Senegal) in July, August and September) and further south in September and October. Therefore catches from Senegal is higher than that of The Gambia. 

To what extend has the Gambian small pelagic fish resources been exploited?

The potential pelagic fish stock in The Gambian waters ranged from a low of 101,000 to a high of 510,000mt from 1992-2011, averaging about 191,000. Catches/supply of small pelagic on the other hand; ranged from 3,240mt to 45,294mt from 1981 to 2016 with an averaged production 19, 000mt indicating an unexploited potential of about 172,000mt.

Therefore licensing of fish processing factory to that stimulate demand for small pelagic species is an option to maximize the benefits of our fish resources for poverty alleviation and fisheries sector development.  Per capita fish consumption is estimated at 25kg per person alone coastal areas and 9kg for inland communities averaging 17kg per capita per person nationally giving rise to a domestic demand for fish at 32,432mt (72% of supply)in 2016.

This scenario is changed with registration of Golden Lead Import and Export Company to process Sardinella species with an annual average demand of about 108,000mt from 2015 onwards, pushing the total demand (domestic and industrial) for small pelagic fish close the carrying capacity of 191,000mt per annum. This clearly shows that Golden Lead has to outsource some 88% of their processing demand from the sub region to operate at optimal level.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Agriculture in Sare Alpha: Labour work reduces while yield increases

At least 200 hundred kilometres from Basse, the regional capital of Upper River Region (URR), is Sare Alpha.  It is a traditional agrarian village, like many other communities in the region and in The Gambia as a whole.
At the village, the main preoccupation of all is subsistence farming. 
Since the formation of the village, at least 200 years ago, they have been alternatively farming on the same piece of land using the same traditional farming methods and with little modification on the materials used.  The harvest has almost been the same year in, year out.  
But unlike some other traditional communities, the villagers of Sare Alpha are receptive to change, change for the better.  At the first visit of the officials of the Nema project and at the introduction of the concept of Farmer Field School (FFS), the villager jumped at it.
‘Nema’, is a Mandinka word adopted as the name of an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-financed project in The Gambia.  The seven-year project is designed to reduce the poverty of rural women and youth with the objective of increasing income by improving rice and vegetable productivities.
Ousainou Sissaho of Sare Alpha recalled the first time the officials of Nema came to the village:  “When they first came here, they told us that they have a project to help us but the help is not in terms of money or materials.  They said they want to educate us on good and effective ways of agriculture, to increase our production.”
This was four years ago and it was the introduction of FFS in Sare Alpha, the first village to benefit from such project from Nema in URR.
Twenty-five people were selected by the villagers to undergo the FFS training.  Ousainou was recruited and trained to be the training facilitator.
The Sare Alpha farmer field school is mainly based on rice cultivation.  Through experiment and practical demonstration at the field school, the farmers learnt appropriate and best practices in rice seed selection, sowing, spacing, weeding, and fertilizer and pesticides application. 
The 25 farmer-students of the field school meet once-a-week and they observe and compare two plots of rice fields over the course of an entire cropping season.  One plot follows local conventional methods while the other is used to experiment with what could be considered ‘best practices’ in rice cultivation. 
Ousainou, the facilitator, said they started the training at the field school even before cultivation commence; it starts at the clearing of land for rice cultivation.  And at the commencement of the rainy season, the farmers are shown the best method of sowing rice.

Cohesion due to education: Benefits of literacy in URR

By Lamin Jahateh

Sare Alpha and Julangel are two villages in Upper River Region (URR) benefiting from a functional literacy programme being funded by a government project.  The two villages are largely inhabited by two different ethnic groups with distinctive cultures and traditions. 
But one of the similarities of the two cultures and traditions is that women do things on their own, with support from men, and men do things largely independent of women.
This segregation is largely very pronounced and prominent in Julangel, a Sarahule community.  At the village, women do not sit at the bantaba, not for any reason, and men do not go to the market, except in rear circumstances.  But the village market and the bantaba are directly opposite, just the road that divides the village into two almost equal halves also separates the bantaba from the market. 
But even at Julangel, surprisingly, older men and women, mostly house heads, share the same class, sit in the same room and are taught by the same person, thanks to the adult literacy programme. 
This has successfully bridged the divide and brought in understanding among the women themselves and between women and men.
Mr Marie Dambele, facilitator of the adult literacy class in Julangel, said: “The education has brought in so many things to this village.  Sometimes, the women here find it difficult to come to understanding on issues.  I don’t know why but it was difficult go get them cooperate successfully for long.  It does not mean they used to fight or quarrel, no. 
“They do go to one another’s programme and do things together but the collaboration and the cooperation among them was not that strong to my own observation. 
“But the classes they attend together now have brought in more unity and oneness among themselves.  All those who attend the classes together can now talk openly to one another and discuss things just like we discuss things in class.”