Business News of Tue, 25 Aug 20150

Ghana's agro processing sector gets boost

---as EU supports NBSSI to upgrade local enterprises

Ghana's quest of becoming a dominant player in the agro processing markets in the West African sub-region and Europe has received a major boost, following the installation of the internationally acclaimed Hazard Analysis & Critical Control point (HACCP) at 10 agro processing enterprises in the Greater Accra Region.

These enterprises include- Quarcoo Initiatives, producers and exporters of organic fruit juices and exporters of fresh limes to Europe, Grace Foods Limited, producers of Corn flour, Vinegar, and Ketchup; Divine Foods Limited, Uplife Co. Ltd producers and marketers of honey products; Elsa Foods, producers of assorted fufu flour; Blessed Child Foods, producers of Shito, assorted cereal mix, etc; Elsa foods producers of fufu flour; and Homefoods Limited, producers of palm oil, gari, and spices.

The project is being sponsored by the European Union (EU) under the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) Programme. This component on food safety and Quality management at Enterprise level is being implemented by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).

The broad objective of the Project is to improve the capacity of MSEs to access local and international markets through product quality improvement and standardization.

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Speaking at the second NBSSI TRAQUE Project review meeting for the 10 beneficiary enterprises, private Business Development Service (BDS) providers, and Business Advisors (BAs) of the NBSSI in Accra, the consultant to the project, Asiwome Kodjo Tsamenyi was confident that HACCP would enhance the competitiveness of the country's agro processing exports on the global market.

Mr Tsamenyi who is also the Managing Director of Quality Safety Health and Environment Resources (QSHE Resources), described HACCP as "a proactive tool that could be employed in any industry to prevent food contamination from happening".

He noted that through the project the enterprises had adopted the HACCP to enable them identify, analyse, and check unwanted materials in food or on food processing environment that could be harmful to the consumers.

A well installed HACCP at an enterprise will enable Quality Control officers and production managers to identify potential hazards and their critical control points so as to reduce or eliminate them on time during the production stage.

He told African Eye News.com that the enterprises had gone through the training and coaching sessions to enable them put together the documentations necessary for a successful installation of HACCP. In addition these enterprises have also been trained to conduct an audit of their systems. By so doing, they are aware of the processes they will be subjected to by certification bodies if they apply for certification for HACCP.

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The Deputy Executive Director of NBSSI, Mr. Saeed Owusu-Brobbey, used the opportunity to encourage the entrepreneurs to look at HACCP as an investment and take time gradually to learn it and implement as part of their business processes.

He admonished the beneficiary enterprises to see the HACCP and every safety requirement(s) as an investment in their businesses.

"You should look at it as the same as buying new equipment. If you have new equipment or a state-of-the-art facility in your company and you do not have safe practices, you might end up producing defective products that will end up not bringing any value to you in terms of export", he advised.

Mr Tsamenyi again reminded the players in the country's agro processing industry that the Public Health Act mandates the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ensure that pre-packaged food must be safe for consumption.

After making it safe for people to consume in the country, they would be looking to export the surplus to the other countries. This is where documentations on HACCP becomes very necessary as proof of safety of the food produced by the enterprises.

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He, noted that there are technical barriers to trade and that if the enterprises do not meet the requirements of HACCP, and they cannot show by documentary evidence and practice that their food products are safe, it means that, such products may not good for consumption in the country and at the same time it would not be acceptable in the importing countries.

" It is important to make sure that food produced in Ghana is safe for consumption and also satisfy the food safety requirements of the importing countries Mr Tsamenyi emphasised.

The Director of Women Entrepreneurship Development of NBSSI, Madam Habiba Sumani mentioned that the review meeting conducted on the 19th August, 2015 was to afford the beneficiaries the opportunity to present the progress of the implementation and to share their experiences. "Also the consultants are available to give the necessary feedback of the various documentations."

According to her the project seeks to enhance the capacity of NBSSI Business Advisors based in the Districts and BDS providers in Standards and Quality as well as food safety management systems. Specifically, the project seeks to strengthen the capacity of NBSSI and Business Development Service providers to provide advice to MSEs on quality management services for food handling and processing, and; to Support MSEs in achieving certification in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Program (HACCP).

“This will enable NBSSI staff to give advice to entrepreneurs to help them to meet local and international standards and requirements", Madam Sumani stressed.

Accordingly, the project entitled-'Support to Improve Services to Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in the field of Food Safety and Quality Management' is divided into two main components, namely component one-Capacity building on food safety, and component two- Support to MSEs in quality upgrading specifically implementation of HACCP in their enterprise.

The component one involved capacity building for NBSSI Staff and private BDS Providers, particularly at the district-level, to enable them undertake sensitization/awareness creation programs and limited training of MSEs in the districts in standards and quality improvement issues, mainly in the field of food-related businesses.

Component one was implemented mainly through a two-day Capacity Building Workshops in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale for 134 staff of the NBSSI Institution, 15 Private BDS Providers, and 50 micro and small scale enterprises.

In all, 199 participants benefited from this component.

Participants were equipped with knowledge and the skills-set necessary to effectively conduct on-site enterprise needs assessment, and offer advisory and counseling services on the range of business development services required for upgrading the quality management systems of MSEs, and eventually meeting Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) certification requirements among others.

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