UNIDO Unveils Gambia’s First Standard Onion Storage Facilities to Empower Local Farmers

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By: Alieu Ceesay

In a groundbreaking move for Gambia’s agricultural sector, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has completed the construction of the country’s first-ever standard onion curing and storage facilities in Berefet of Foni Berefet District, West Coast Region, Nanaba, and Jahuar Mandinka.

These state-of-the-art facilities, developed under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), aim to revolutionize onion storage, benefiting 700 women and 28 men farmers by preventing post-harvest losses and ensuring better market prices for their produce.

Media representatives visited the Berefet facility on Tuesday, June 25th, 2024, to witness this transformative project in action.

In this storage facility, onions are arranged in tons, showcasing the fruits of these hardworking village women gardeners.

Ma Lamin Drammeh, National Horticultural Value Chain Expert for the UNIDO/WACOMP project, said part of the project also includes producing quality and healthy onions in The Gambia.

“Food safety and quality compliant measures have been observed to grow enough onions in The Gambia and minimize the importation of onions. This will empower women.”

Drammeh further stated that a previous survey was conducted to measure the need for onion production in The Gambia, deeming it necessary for UNIDO to work towards producing high-quality, locally available onions.

Bakary Gassama, the Regional Agricultural Director of the West Coast Region, revealed the country’s horticultural pipeline project for lucrative engagement, noting that tomato production will be another financial opportunity for gardeners.

“Tomatoes, too, are one of the products we (the Department of Agriculture) want to promote under the horticultural activity. They are highly perishable, like onions, and very important to our diet.”

Majula Sanyang, one of the beneficiaries, recalled some challenges they faced before establishing the facility.

“We encountered a lot of problems before the establishment of this storage facility. We would love it if UNIDO could help us with another storage facility.”

Another beneficiary, Karafanding Badjie, warmly welcomed the establishment of the storage facility and shared some of the ease it brought to their lives.

“The establishment of this storage facility cannot be emphasized enough. One of its benefits is the knowledge imparted to us on cultivating and harvesting onions for storage. We can now cultivate our onions without any fear of post-harvest loss.”

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