The National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has expressed readiness to help small and medium scale businesses (SMEs), especially the agro-allied ones in the Northeast affected by the insurgency survive in the much-anticipated post-conflict period and revive the economy in the region.
Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of the agency, speaking at a Stakeholders meeting in Maiduguri, said NAFDAC is ready to go beyond its core regulatory mandate to help the SMEs in the quest to salvage the socio-economic devastation that has taken place in the Lake Chad region in the last 12 years, requires a multi-pronged approach.
Mr Sayo Akintola, NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, in a statement, stated that Adeyeye, who was represented by Dr Bukar Usman, NAFDAC’s Zonal Director, Northeast, noted with sadness that the agro-allied sector is one of the worst affected by the insurgency and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NAFDAC’s DG said in line with the realization that the agricultural sector which accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the economic life of the people in the BAY states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, has been brought to nearly zero because of the Boko Haram insurgency, the agency intends to place importance on value addition ventures with a bias on the agro-allied sector that falls within its mandate.
Acknowledging the huge investment and emphasis of the Borno State government, in the area of agriculture, Adeyeye said NAFDAC is already taking action to meet the expected increase in the number of value chain industries at the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) level in the region, especially in the processing, packaging, and preservation of agricultural products which fall within the mandate of NAFDAC.
She said that NAFDAC has upgraded and presented its Maiduguri Area Laboratory for ISO certification, pointing out that the presence of a zonal testing lab in Maiduguri will go a long way in helping many food processing SME outfits reduce the stress of waiting for a long period of time to get their products tested and certified.
NAFDAC, she said, is also looking at other ways of adding value to whatever value addition the SMEs want to do in the agro-based sector, including training of potential agro-entrepreneurs and food processors on the regulatory reequipment and food safety aspect.
Adeyeye said NAFDAC is already promoting the idea of shared facilities or contract manufacturing concept as a way of surmounting the biggest challenge, faced by the SMEs in the agricultural sector businesses, of access to critical facilities for processing and packaging.
“The shared facility is done by encouraging the formation of cooperatives, and such cooperatives can have a single processing facility – may be owned by 15 persons or business entities and each one of them can use it and have a shared cost,” she said.
She said NAFDAC would recognize the cooperative with such a facility and even register their processed products as long as the processing or packaging facility meets NAFDAC’s standards.
Adeyeye praised the efforts of NAFDAC Northeast Zonal Directorate for being able to secure the buy-in of Bay states in the area of supporting MSMEs in the agro-allied processing and packaging industries to overcome the challenge associated with startups.