Dutch expert echoes President Jammeh’s food safety advice
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The end of year interview of the Gambian leader, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, has attracted quite a number of positive reactions from an wide array of people, mainly due to the significance of the topical issues the president discussed during the discussion with Kebba Dibba, which lasted for more than one hour.
But one very important topic President Jammeh highlighted – the contemporary issue of imported food products that flood into the country unchecked – has especially grabbed the attention of so many people. One of them is a renowned meat expert of Dutch nationality, William Van Wageningen-Hulst. Wageningen-Hulst is in the country as a representative of the Netherlands senior experts group, PUM, and his mission is to provide assistance in the form of advice to Kombo Farms, at whose request he was sent here by the Dutch government.
Wageningen-Hulst was accompanied by his host, co-founder and proprietor of Kombo Farms, Sulayman Mboob, to our offices, yesterday. Mboob told the Daily Observer that the Dutchman had found the Gambian leader’s statement on the state of imported and advertised food so vital that he was wondering if Gambians were aware of the significance of the lessons to be deduced from it. He described the move of the president as a "bold step", which motivated Wageningen-Hulst to commend him.
But William Wageningen-Hulst’s mission is by no means limited to commending President Jammeh; he is keener to urge Gambians to take heed of the "prudent" advice of the Gambian leader. He said that back in Europe, people are very much concerned about the food they eat, and more so about where those foods come from. He actually does not expect anything less from people in other parts of the world. Restaurant owners, he said, are under some sort of obligation to acquire their foodstuffs from within the same country, lest their customers do not buy their products.
That was a point Mboob, a one time SoS for Agriculture, emphasized. Echoing Professor Jammeh’s statement, Mboob drew a link between the health status of the people and the undisclosed nature of foodstuff imported from outside the country. He stressed that if people heed the advice of the president, it will go a long way in not only cutting down on the economic burden the health sector weighs on the country, but that it will also pay dividend by uplifting the standard of living of the people.
According to the Kombo Farms boss, government has a great responsibility to safeguard its people from this quagmire, and this, he maintained, is no doubt what the president realizes, "and it explains his unending call for attitudinal change in terms of the feeding habit of Gambians.
“Like the president used to say," he stated, "it is safer to eat what we know in order to prevent ourselves from mysterious incurable diseases, than to indulge in eating foodstuffs that we know absolutely nothing about." Mboob observed that Gambians will rather opt for imported foodstuffs in local supermarkets, despite their cost, than go in for the obviously fresh, delicious and safe, locally prepared ones. He blamed it all on lack of awareness, but was quick to challenge the media to play their role in raising awareness on dangers associated with some of the foodstuffs that find their way into the country.
PUM, Netherlands senior experts, which William Wageningen-Hulst works for, is a non-profit organization established in the Netherlands as a result of cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs /Development Aid, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Central Employers Federations. Their aim is to assist industries and to transfer general management, professional and technical skills.
Author: by Kemo Cham