By Yunus S Saliu
The Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE), Honourable Baboucar Ousmaila Joof, on Friday, 13th January 2023 paid a courtesy visit to Cashew Gambia Company Limited in Kabafita, West Coast Region.
The visit marked his first official visit to the cashew processing factory to have first-hand information about the factory and familiarize himself with its operation and was accompanied on the visit by the permanent secretary – Lamin Dampha, deputy permanent secretary – Hassan Gaye, and some of the senior officials of the MoTIE.
Minister Joof and his delegate were received at the gate of the factory by Mr. Muhammad B Kabba, CEO of CashewGam Ltd, and members of his staff, while Abdou Rahman Sillah, the Managing Director of the factory took the Honourable Minister and his delegation on a conducted tour of the Cashew Gambia Company Ltd.
Among places toured at the factory include the power plant, warehouse, steaming, calibrate, dryer/oven, packaging, and grading areas, while the Honourable Minister used the opportunity to have one-on-one chat with the staff regarding their mode of working and situations.
Addressing staff and customers of the CashewGam at the visit, the Minister expressed delight on his visit to the Cashew Gambia Factory Ltd, a local initiative of a Gambian investor.
He described the CEO of the factory as a patriotic Gambian who has invested in his country to be part of the development journey to improve the country’s economy by investing hugely in the factory.
“Despite the challenges he’s facing he did not stop investing in the factory, which is one of the reasons I have to visit to see the thing on the ground by myself when I was told about the factory. But I am happy that the initiative is on despite the challenges he faced since establishment till today he never gives up, this indicates he is a committed and genuine Gambia, to create employment for the Gambia people,” Minister Joof appreciated CEO CashewGam.
This company, the Minister disclosed, is capable of employing 500 people if maximizes the resources and has the required materials “for me that is a milestone and we are very grateful for complementing the government effort by promoting Made in The Gambia.”
The Minister seized the opportunity to call on the Gambians in Diaspora to emulate Muhammad B Kabba to come back home to invest in industrialization to stimulate growth through trade.
Muhammad B Kabba, CEO of CashewGam Ltd, thanked the Minister and members of the delegation for taking the time to visit the factory. He gave an in-depth evolution of the factory.
The CEO, in brief, highlighted the success of the factory and constraints while he expressed that no nation be economically resilient without developing its agricultural sector “this is one reason that we focus on value-added since the establishment of the factory.”
In addition, he encouraged the country to improve on its term of trade (TOT) to grow the economy “here in CashewGam we focus on value, export and addition, and term of trade. And our successful area is that since the establishment of the factory we have been able to export our cashew to the US market, a very great achievement not only for the factory but for the Gambia. And our major challenge is the machines.”
Lamin Dampha, the Permanent Secretary at the MoTIE emphasized the reason and importance of the Minister’s visit to the factory while he thanked the various cashew farmers and organizations that came to welcome and listen to the Minister on the visit.
He acknowledged them for taking their time to travel from different parts of the region to welcome the Honourable Minister and his delegation to CashewGam Ltd and witness the visit.
Seeing the factory improving, Mr. Dampha said the Ministry will see how they can work together to make the country more active, while he noted that cashew work is labour intensive “and if this place is in full operation not less than 300 people that will be working here.”
He disclosed to them that the MoTIE has launched an employment policy with an ambition of creating 150,000 within five years, though “it is a big task but working together it is possible.”
Lewis Silver, president of Kombo Cashew Federation, cashew farmers, representatives of different cooperatives, cashew farmers associations, vendors, and others present to receive the Minister.