The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) recently held a debate session on whether The Gambia should cease the importation of poultry products to source such products from local Gambian producers.
The debate, which was held at the Ebunja Theatre in Kanifing, was in commemoration of the World Food Safety Day that is celebrated globally on 7th June. The day gathered participants from policy makers, stakeholders from the private sector, agricultural sector in particular, and other members of the public.
Addressing the gathering, Momodou Bah, director general of the Food Safety Quality Authority (FSQA), said the debate was geared towards activating the citizenry’s opinion on the subject of the debate.
Debating against the motion was Pauline Gibba of FSQA and Musa Nget of the School of Public Health, while Micheal Mendy, a poultry dealer and Saikou Drammeh of the Gambia Standards Bureau debated in favour of the motion.
Presenting his points before the panel of judges, Mr. Micheal Mendy argued that the importations of poultry products is not doing any good to the country, reminding that the country’s demand of such products could be met by local dealers when given the much needed capacity.
“I know that The Gambia is part of World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the ECOWAS, which talk about free movement of persons, goods and services, but Senegal has done it (banned importation of poultry products),”.
Mendy said in his bid to debunk Pauline Gibba’s point that the Gambia is a party to these aforementioned organisations, and thus obliged to abide by their principles.
“Once they did that, investors saw an opportunity and invested. Today, Senegal is not only supplying The Gambia in terms of poultry products, but they are supplying other neighbors.”
He made reference to Netherlands, where one can nether import poultry products, nor dairy products.
“Yet, they are a member of the WTO. Every country has to protect its local industries, if they want to stimulate economic growth. For us to stimulate our economic growth, we have to protect the local industry and production will increase.”
“My co-debaters base their argument on mere assumptions but not on facts. We believe that before you place a ban, you must do a situational analysis of that particular issue,” Musa Nget debunked his co-debaters’ points.
“Are we technologically oriented or equipped to ban the importation of poultry products in The Gambia?” He asked.
“How many Gambians are into poultry production, and how many Gambians have the required knowledge on how to manage poultry?”
However, after some back and forth arguments and counter-arguments, the debate ended in a stalemate as two judges voted for the team against the motion, while the other two ruled in favour of the other team that argued for the motion.