10 agro-processing enterprises operating in Ghana’s burgeoning agro-food processing industry in Ghana’s have shared their knowledge on standards, food safety and quality management at a workshop in Accra.
The 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; 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 day’s final experience sharing workshop afforded the 10 beneficiary enterprises to showcase the achievements of the internationally acclaimed Hazard Analysis & Critical Control point (HACCP), a food safety management system.
Speaking at the workshop, the Project Coordinator and Director of Women Entrepreneurship Development of NBSSI, Madam Habiba Sumani explained that the enterprises had gone through the training and coaching sessions to enable them put together the documentations and make necessary structural adjustments 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.
The broad objective of the project, according to her, is to improve the capacity of Medium and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to access local and international markets through product quality improvement and standardization.
Madam Sumani added that the project seeks to enhance the capacity of NBSSI Business Advisors based in the Districts and private Business Development Service (BDS) providers in Standards and Quality as well as food safety management systems.
Specifically, the project seeks to strengthen the capacity of NBSSI and BDS providers to provide advice to MSEs on quality management services for food handling and processing, and; to Support MSEs in achieving certification in 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.
She told the participants at the well attended event that 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. The 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
In an address, the Head of Macroeconomics and Trade Section at the European Union (EU) Delegation, Christian Peters noted that SMEs in Ghana would only survive if the Ghanaian government creates the enabling environment for them to operate.
He added with enabling environment and support most Ghanaian SMEs would excel in their various areas of operations in the country.
Mr Peters therefore urged the government to create the enable environment for the players in the SMEs sector who employed the chunk part of the population to grow their businesses.
“We believe in the SMEs sector hence our continued support”.
The Deputy Executive Director of NBSSI, Mr. Saeed Owusu-Brobbey, observed that the wake of globalization and international trade, quality requirements on food products are becoming stricter to protect the health of the consumer.
This, according to him clearly shows how important standards and requirements are to the health and safety of consumers as well as to the quality of products.
Standardization promotes efficiency and quality assurance in industry, technology, science and the public sector. It serves to safeguard people and goods and to improve quality in all areas of life, Mr Owusu-Brobbey emphasised.
He used the occasion to on behalf of the Government of Ghana and Ministry of Trade and Industry to extend profound gratitude to the EU for funding the project.
“It is our hope that this wouldn’t be the end of the road but the EU will continue to support the government through its implementing agencies such as NBSSI through innovative projects and programmes to improve the lives of the people of Ghana and reduce poverty for sustained economic growth and development”, Owusu-Brobbey said.
Meanwhile, the 10 beneficiary agro-food processing enterprises of the component two were presented with certificates for successfully going the HACCP programme.
Picture caption: Project Coordinator and Director of Women Entrepreneurship Development of NBSSI, Madam Habiba Sumani