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‘How to improve market access through voluntary certifications’

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Awolowo

To aid improved market access for exporters of processed foods, especially in preparation for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has tasked exporters to embrace food safety and quality management systems certifications, alongside other voluntary options.

The NEPC noted that it had become imperative for non-oil exporters to acquire additional non-mandatory certifications to enable them compete effectively in global markets.

With a bigger consumer market expected in January, due to the AfCFTA, the NEPC noted that voluntary certifications would further aid market access.

Addressing exporters at an awareness training programme, in line with the Go Global, Go for Certification Initiative, tagged “Implementation of food safety and quality management systems certification for food and manufacturing exporters” during an online meeting, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, explained that non-mandatory certifications like the ISO, HACCP, and GMP are global certification, trusted by consumers and end-users of products and services, and are attained, based on the reputation of the certifying bodies.

Awolowo, who was represented by Director, Products Development Department, NEPC, William Ezeagu, added that the training was designed to increase awareness about the basic rudiments of food safety for non-oil exporters’ products.

He explained that the training will further encourage them to attain full certification through a Conformity Assessment Body, as well as ease global market entry for their products, thereby boosting Nigeria’s non-oil export portfolio.

“We are looking at value-addition for our products. Our export strength is in the area of processed foods and we are exploring how to improve the quality. Beyond the mandatory requirements, we are also exploring the non-mandatory requirements that will aid access to global markets.

“In efforts to ensure the success of this Initiative, the Council engaged a reputable Certification expert, TopCertifier, based in Bangalore India to provide Certification Awareness training to our manufacturers and producers.

“The India based company guides companies and organizations certification for ISO, CMMI, CE, FSMS and other international certifications and have successfully executed over 3,000 projects across 20 countries”, he added.

The Managing Director of TopCertifier, Vinay Kumar, one of the facilitators, explained that the goal of the training is assist exporters to improve their access to new and existing markets through capacity building on basic rudiments that will help them attain full certification for their products.

Speaking on the importance of certification in the COVID-19 scenario, Kumar said there has been an increase in demand for food, pharmaceuticals and garment manufacturing industries, hence emphasis on processes and certifications.

To compete under the present scenario, he emphasised the need for improved quality control and urged exporters to embrace voluntary certifications that are globally acceptable.


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