The visit marked his first official visit to the cashew processing factory to have first-hand information about the factory and familiarise himself with its operations.
The minister was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary Lamin Dampha, Deputy Permanent Secretary Hassan Gaye and some senior officials of the MoTIE.
Minister Joof and his delegation were received at the gate of the factory by Muhammad B. Kabba, the CEO of CashewGam Ltd., and members of his staff, while Abdou Rahman Sillah, the managing director of the factory took the Hon. minister and his delegation on a conducted tour of Cashew Gambia Company Ltd.
The places toured at the factory include the power plant, warehouse, steaming, calibrate, dryer/oven, packaging, and grading areas.
The minister during the visit used the opportunity to have one-on-one chat with the staff regarding their mode of working and situations.
Addressing staff and customers during the visit, the minister expressed delight over his visit to the Cashew Gambia Factory Ltd., a local initiative of a Gambian investor, describing 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 things 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 the establishment till today without giving up. This indicates he is a committed and genuine Gambia, to create employment for the Gambia people,” Minister Joof said of CEO CashewGam.
This company, the minister pointed out, is capable of employing 500 people if it maximises the resources and has the required materials. “For me that is a milestone and we are very grateful for complementing the government’s effort by promoting Made in The Gambia.”
Minister Joof seized the opportunity to call on the Gambians in Diaspora to emulate Muhammad B. Kabba to come back home to invest in industries to stimulate growth through trade.
Muhammad B. Kabba, CEO of CashewGam Ltd., thanked the minister and 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 expressing that no nation can 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, emphasised the reason and importance of the minister’s visit to the factory, while thanking the various cashew farmers and organisations that came to welcome and listen to the minister during the visit.
Mr. Dampha said the Ministry would see how they could work together to make the country more active, noting that cashew work is labour intensive “and if this place is in full operation, not less than 300 people can work here.”
He disclosed to them that the MoTIE has launched an employment policy with an ambition of creating 150,000 jobs 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 were present to receive the Minister.