NEPC tasks exporters on voluntary certifications, products’ quality

Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo

To aid improved market access for exporters of processed foods, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has commenced an awareness programme on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) alongside other voluntary certifications.
 
Indeed, the NEPC noted that it had become imperative for non-oil exporters to acquire additional non-mandatory certifications to enable them to compete effectively in the global markets.
   
Besides, the NEPC noted that the European Union (EU) ban on dried beans from Nigeria would soon be lifted as necessary conditions and requirements have been met, adding that the nation is at the final hurdle and awaits the decision of the trade bloc.
     
HACCP is a tool to assess hazards and establish control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying mainly on end-product testing. 
  
By controlling major food risks, such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants, consumers are assured of the safety of the products.
   
Addressing exporters at an awareness training programme in Lagos, yesterday, 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.
  
“We selected our best exporters for the training so that it becomes a game changer for us. Nigeria has a lot of people in the diaspora who seek products from Nigeria. To reach those markets, quality of goods needs to be improved upon and necessary requirements met.
   
“The major advantages of HACCP and other Food Safety Certification include, compliance with customer and applicable regulatory requirements, indicates an effective quality system, improves national/international recognition, provides competitive advantage among others”, 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.

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