Source: The Daily Observer
There was immense excitement among women fishmongers at the Tanji Fishing Centre after their fish smoking houses were recently refurbished.

This intervention was made possible by the Spanish government through the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, the Philippe Cousteau Foundation Union of Oceans in collaboration with Crest Consult and the Fisheries Department.

The women described the refurbishment as timely, as it will facilitate effective production of smoked fish for the consumption of not only the local but also international market.

Four fishing centres, namely Janji, Brufut, Kartong and Gunjur benefited from the refurbishment initiative. The refurbishment of the fish smoking houses is part of The Gambia Coastal Women Fisheries Operators Project which is funded by the Philipe Cousteau Foundation based in Spain. The refurbishment work entailed a complete reconstruction of the smoking houses along with the provision of equipment like insulation boxes, waterproof plastic sandals, knives as well as washbowls, wheelbarrows and hand gloves.

Expressing her appreciation to the donors for the gesture during an interview with this reporter in Tanji over the weekend, the president of the Tanji Women Fish Smokers Association, Fatou Sarr said the refurbishment of their smoking houses has relieved them of a burden that they endured for years. She said previously they used to smoke their fish under the hot sun with virtually nothing to cover them.

She lamented that the environment that they were working in was not healthy at all and conducive to their work in view of the fact that the fish that they smoke are meant for human consumption contamination to health problems. Sarr used the opportunity to thank the Spanish government for the gesture, while assuring that the facility and equipment given to them will be responsibly handled.

The representative of the Crest Consult in the Gambia, Mamanding Kuyateh, explained that before the refurbishment of the four fish smoking houses, they conducted studies to improve knowledge on the role of Gambian women in the fisheries sector. He indicated that they later trained120 fish processors from the beneficiary sites in specific professional skills like post-harvest fish handling, sanitation, and processing, amongst others.

Kuyateh expressed confidence that the refurbishment of the facilities will greatly impact on the livelihoods of not only Gambians but also at the international level, because as he puts it, if the smoked fish reaches the international markets in good condition, it will give the country a good name.

During the official inauguration of the facilities, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Fatou Sosseh-Jallow said the refurbishment of the four fish smoking houses will promote integration of women in the fisheries sector and add value to the way fish are handled and processed. The president of Philippe Cousteau Foundation Union of Oceans, Gabriel Portal, expressed hope that the facilities will be taken good care of for sustainability.

BB Jatta, the vice president of the Tanji Women Fish Smokers Association also expressed deep gratitude to the donors for the refurbishment.

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