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SON to revive ailing paper industry with new standards

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The Director-General, SON, Osita Aboloma


Worried about the moribund state of paper in the country, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and relevant stakeholders have reviewed standards to revive the sector.

Indeed, the regulatory body has harped on the need for the nation’s paper industry to be abreast of global technology and standards in order to be competitive with similar businesses across the world.

The Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, at a technical committee meeting for standards consideration of pulp and paper, explained that the technical committee meeting was to ratify the requirement of standards that a group of experts have already worked upon to address challenges the products pose to manufacturers and by extension the Nigerian economy.

“We need standards to guide some technical issues related to these products, perhaps this is what has been causing the collapse of some of our giant paper mills in the country, but with the set of these new standards, it would go a long way to revive some of our ailing industries. Controversies will be resolved with ease because we have a source of reference and the review will make us in tune with global best practices,” he added.

The SON boss, who was represented at the meeting by the Deputy Director, Standards Development Directorate and Group Head, Chemical Technical Group, SON, Agboola Afolayan, said “We have been carrying out different Technical Committee meetings in different sectors of the economy to provide relevant standards available to all the sectors of the economy. Every sector needs standards for its operations to ease ways of doing business and promote trade.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Dr. Chima Igwe, who is also the Director Chemical, Fibre and Environmental Department, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, (FIIRO), said without standards, quality products will not exist, pointing out that the meeting would help to review existing and develop new standards for papers and allied products.

He urged Nigerians to look out for quality products, saying that SON is out to protect the interest of Nigerians while also encouraging local manufacturers of paper products.

He said beyond the protection of local manufacturers of these products, the SON through standards is also promoting the trade of paper and allied products.

In his words, “The development of a country could be established via the quantity and the volume of paper the country uses whether for education or other domestic purposes. This technical committee is important because we used to have three paper mills, but all went comatose and later just one is about to come back. We are out to ensure that this mill do virgin pulping which is the key to paper production and not secondary fibre formulations like most companies are doing as stakeholders.

The task is not going to be an easy one, because setting standards is not an easy task. Standards are consensus documents but it has to be grounded in science and technology.”

The Director of Laboratory Services, Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria, (IPAN), Wole Opeoluwa, said the aim of the meeting was to enable end-users get the best from manufacturers and also from recyclers.

“The public should be assured that very soon that product in the markets would see obvious improvements in their quality in terms of use, durability and safety. 20 to 25 years ago, the industries that take the raw materials from trees and convert to paper have all shut down due to obvious economic reasons; we would discuss this and seek way forward in terms of policy to government on how to revive these industries. The infrastructure and manpower is still available, it is believed and hoped that at the end of this meeting, the industry would have a working template to come back on stream,” he stated

Recall that SON recently developed international standards for most of the nation’s staple food products such as garri, dry beans, soya beans, rice and the likes.This, the SON helmsman said was to put an end to the high level of rejection faced by Nigeria’s agricultural produce at the international markets.

“For instance, as far as agriculture is concerned, the standards we developed are to ensure that products and services meet the global benchmarks, thereby forestalling a repeat of the rejection of our products as it happened recently at the international market. We have developed standards for many agricultural products, like Shea butter, dry beans, smoked fish, yam flour, plantain chips, sesame seeds, oil, Rice, Cocoa, Cocoa Butter and Garri,” he averred.


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