A GNA feature by Amadu Kamil Sanah
Accra, May 27 (GNA) – The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) Programme, is implementing a project to build the capacity of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in the agro- processing sector in food safety and quality management.
The NBSSI with funding from the European Union, under the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) is to enhance the capacity of Business Advisors and Private Business Development Services (BDS) providers in Standards and Quality as well as food management systems.
The project divided into two main components consist of capacity building on food safety and quality management and Support to MSEs in quality upgrading.
Component one was implemented last year through a two–day capacity building workshop in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale for 134 staff of the NBSSI institutions, 15 Private BDS Providers, and 50 MSEs.
The second component of the project, which is also seeking to maximise the export performance through the implementation of food safety and quality management, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) in the sector.
Ten enterprises from component one was selected through a screening process to benefit from component two and taken through six months training and coaching programme to implement the food safety management system, specifically the HACCP and to certify them.
The broad objective of the project is to improve the capacity of MSEs to access local and international markets through product quality improvement and standardisation.
The specific objectives are to strengthen the capacity of NBSSI and Business Service providers to provide advice to MSEs on quality management services for food handling and processing and to support MSEs in achieving certification in HACCP.
The project is expected to make NBSSI’s staff and BDS providers aware and capable of providing professional advice and training on food safety management as part of the services offered to MSEs.
The MSEs are to integrate the concepts of food safety management in their business operations leading to HACCP certification.
The Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mr Lukman Abdul-Rahim in an interview with the Ghana News Agency said, the MSEs has been the largest segment of the industrial sector in Ghana and generates about 75 per cent of employment.
He said the MSEs sector is confronted with a myriad of challenges, which could be categorised into financial and non-financial.
Mr Abdul-Rahim noted that inadequate access to financial assistance and stringent terms and conditions of financial institutions are some of the challenges that hinder the growth of MSEs.
« Inadequate access to information, technology, new markets and the lack of sound entrepreneurial and managerial skills are some of the non-financial constraints that affect MSEs ».
He said inadequate access to markets is one of the most serious challenges militating against the growth of MSEs in Ghana.
The problem includes poor product and services quality, caused among other things by poor packaging and labelling, poor finishing, and the inability of operators to meet local and international standards and specifications.
The Executive Director said the NBSSI, has taken the leadership role to address some of the constraints affecting MSEs, specifically, their weak understanding and applications of prevailing food products quality requirements in domestic and foreign markets.
This he said in-turn, affects their capacities to produce higher value added market competition.
Most MSEs have little or no exposure on issues of product quality improvement and standardisation and are also ignorant of international standards and quality requirements, therefore, unable to meet standards in an attempt to export their products.
He said, in line with the objectives set up by the TRAQUE programme, NBSSI has developed the project to benefit from the synergies between a national trade capacity building programme devoted to improve the quality of Ghanaian products, and a Government body committed to deliver trade-related services to its stakeholders.
The NBSSI is the apex Government Institution responsible for the promotion and development of the MSEs sector under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
It was established by an Act of Parliament (Act 434 of 1981) with the main objectives to contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for MSEs development, deepen the development of an enterprise culture, facilitate MSEs’ access to substantial and high quality BDS for their development, facilitate access to credit for MSEs and promote MSEs sector associations.