Packaging workshop targets Gambia's cashew, groundnut, sesame producers
Nearly 30 farmers and producers attended a training workshop on packaging, labelling and procurement for Gambia’s cashew nut, ground nut and sesame sectors. The training, which was hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and held in Banjul in June 2013, was part of a Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project under the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). Most attendees were cashew farmers and food processors, but the workshop also attracted growers of fresh produce as well as cereal producers.
Over four days the participants were taught the fundamentals of packaging, technical aspects of packaging for snack foods and the structural design of consumer packs. The workshop also explained packaging chains and ways in which participants could create value through branding.
Participants at the workshop were also introduced to a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) carried out by ITC in 2012. This indicates that cashew nuts, ground nuts and sesame had the potential to become key foreign exchange earners for Gambia, providing that gaps in packaging and labeling were addressed. To bridge this gap, the packaging workshop emphasized the need for good structural and graphic design, labeling, printing and decorations as well as branding.
‘In general, we think that the training on packaging was very good with the important elements of packaging well covered. We found that all the recommendations are relevant and they should be considered for their effective implementation, especially Branding and Bar Code,’ said Bai Ibrahim Jobe, National Coordinator of the EIF in Gambia.
The current training has a direct link to ITC’s previous work in Gambia. The consultant who conducted the Gambia workshop, for example, was trained in 2011 under a project to increase the competitiveness of the African private sector. Funded by the European Commission, the project – Empowering the African Private Sector network to strengthen the international competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – was designed to reinforce the capacities of intermediary organizations in Africa. It resulted in 126 African professionals being trained: 16 packaging experts, 18 quality experts and 92 supply chain experts.
‘At ITC we can be proud of the concept of building expertise in Africa for Africa, as an alternative to flying experts in from other continents.’said Jacky Charbonneau, Chief of ITC’s Enterprise Competitiveness section.
‘Mr Tom Owuor, who is from Kenya, was one of the top trainees in our packaging component.’
In addition to the workshop, Mr Owuor also helped to set up a Packaging Information Resource Centre in Gambia. The Ministry of Trade, in consultation with Mr Owuor, decided to set this up at the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. ITC provided the relevant literature and officials launched the Packaging Information Resource Centre after the workshop was completed.