Ghana’s Agro Processing Sector Gets EU, NBSSI Support To Upgrade Local Enterprises

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The installation of the internationally acclaimed Hazard Analysis & Critical Control point (HACCP) at 10 agro processing enterprises in the Greater Accra Region has added a boost to Ghana’s pursuit of becoming a dominant player in the agro processing markets in the West African sub-region and Europe.

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 auspices of Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) Programme, while the section on food safety and Quality management at Enterprise level is being implemented by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).

The NBSSI’s objective of the project is to improve the capacity of MSEs to access local and international markets through product quality improvement and standardization.

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 convinced that HACCP would enhance the competitiveness of the country’s agro processing exports on the global market.

Tsamenyi who doubles as the Managing Director of Quality Safety Health and Environment Resources (QSHE Resources), highlighted HACCP as “a proactive tool that could be employed in any industry to prevent food contamination from happening”.

He contended 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, he said, 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.

Footprint to Africa was informed that the enterprises had undertaken the training and coaching sessions to enable them put together the documentations necessary for a successful installation of HACCP, to conduct an audit of their systems and be more aware of the processes they will be subjected to by certification bodies if they apply for certification for HACCP.

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

“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 warned.

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, and make ready the surplus for export to other countries.

He reminded them of the 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.

In view of this , 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 of the project 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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