He made this remark during an interview with The Point at his residence at Kubariko in Kombo North, West Coast Region, on Saturday.
The food processing sector needs to be integrated into the country’s strategy for inclusive growth by creating an enabling environment that would encourage investments in infrastructure, research, innovation, and technology, he said.
According to him, the Government of The Gambia should also provide incentives for developing the food processing industry and creating awareness about the importance of processed foods.
“We can only hope to see the sector multiply and contribute to The Gambia’s economic development,” he said.
He indicated that food processing and preservation benefits include increased food safety, improved nutrition, longer shelf life, and increased economic opportunities.
Mr Dampha said food processing is a method used to process food to reduce the number of undesired microorganisms and improve its stability and safety margins to make it more suitable for human consumption.
He added that there are many opportunities for investment in the food processing sector, which offers good returns on investment.
He mentioned that food processing in The Gambia is facing several challenges, such as lack of adequate infrastructure, shortage of skilled workforce, inadequate access to finance and raw materials, high cost of energy, lack of proper storage facilities, and poor market exposure.
He said the scope and importance of food processing are vast, with many different methods used to achieve different results.
Food processing and preservation can be defined as all the activities and operations required for converting raw agricultural produce into safe and nutritious food products, he said, adding: “Food processing and preservation are necessary to ensure access to safe and palatable foods at reasonable costs.”
He said further that food processing enhances the shelf life of food through various ways such as microorganism control, low-temperature storage, dehydration, and removal of oxygen. “It also alters the texture, flavour, and nutritional value of food products to appeal to consumers,” he says.
“Food processing is the transformation of raw ingredients into food products that can be eaten by physical or chemical means; food preservation slows or stops food spoilage by various methods, including drying, freezing, pickling, and irradiation.”
Mr Dampha said he has trained people in his community on the venture because food processing includes physical process that changes the physical characteristics of food to make it safer or more convenient to use, as processing also improves palatability and appearance.
“The food processing is an important part of the Gambia economy. It accounts for about 10% of Gambia’s GDP and it can employ young people in the country,” he added.
Mr Dampha calls on the Gambia government, the private sector, non-governmental agencies and individuals to give a lending hand to his food processing venture to boost the sector in The Gambia for the well-being of the nation.
He said his intention is to expand his business idea and products across the country but that would be difficult to fulfill without the support of the government and development partners.