North East: NAFDAC to support small, emerging businesses – DG

The National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it will go beyond its core regulatory mandate to help small and medium scale businesses in the country’s Northeast affected by the 12-year insurgency survive in the much-anticipated post-conflict era. 

The Director General of the Agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye is of the opinion that salvaging the socio-economic devastation that has taken place in the Lake Chad region in the last 12 years, requires a multi-pronged approach. 
Prof. Adeyeye who was speaking through Dr Bukar Usman mni, NAFDAC’s Zonal Director, Northeast, said NAFDAC would also be helping small businesses in the agro-allied sector in weathering the storm of COVID-19 and insurgency-induced economic downturn. 

In a statement by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, in Lagos on Sunday, Prof. Adeyeye noted with dismay that the agro-allied sector is one of the worst affected by the insurgency that saw the destruction of all socio-economic fabrics of the sub-region.

The Nigerian regulatory agency for all processed consumables said the agricultural sector which accounts for nearly ‘90 per cent’ of the economic life of the people was brought to zero in the BAY states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, especially in Borno State which is the heartbeat of the Boko Haram insurgency. 

Prof. Adeyeye said the agency intends to go into value addition ventures with a bias on the agro-allied sector that falls within its mandate. Agricultural development is at the heart of the 25 Years Development Plan as well as the Ten Years Action Plan of Borno State. In preparation to meet up with the possible challenge of coping with increase samples, the Maiduguri Area Laboratory is currently being upgraded and presented for ISO accreditation

The DG said the huge investment that the Borno State government, for example, is making in the area of agriculture “will bring about a multitude of value chain industries at the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs level.

She said most of the agro-allied value chain enterprises that will spring up in Borno and the Lake Chad region, might engage on the processing, packaging, and preservation of agricultural products. This, she said, falls within the mandate of NAFDAC.  “The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the economy; NAFDAC is bringing to the northeast a value addition,” she said. 

“More people are massively going into agriculture, and the tendency for people to process agro-based products will increase. And if you are processing an agricultural product, it means most of the products will end up being packaged.”

“Once one is processing and packaging, that enterprise has fallen within the mandate of NAFDAC. The mandate of NAFDAC is critical to adding value to whatever value addition they want to do in the agro-based sector.” This can possibly be achieved through training of potential agro-entrepreneurs and food processors on the regulatory reequipment and food safety aspect.

The DG said the biggest challenge to be faced by the SMEs in the agricultural sector businesses is the access to critical facilities for processing and packaging.  “There Is one major challenge for MSMEs in meeting this standard,” she said, adding that “on the issue of having the packaging or production facility, NAFDAC is now promoting the idea of shared facilities or contract manufacturing concept”.

“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 NAFDAC would recognize the cooperative with such a facility and even register their processed products as long as the processing or packaging facility meets the standard of NAFDAC. 

NAFDAC said the presence of a zonal testing lab in Maiduguri will also go a long way in helping many micro small and medium food processing outfits to reduce the stress of waiting for weeks and months to get their products tested and certified.

“The zonal testing lab in Maiduguri has helped in reducing the stress of getting tests and approvals,” she said. 

Giving kudos to NAFDAC’s Zonal Director for Northeast, Dr Usman, Prof. Adeyeye said NAFDAC has been able to secure the buy-in of Bay states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states in the area of supporting MSMEs in the agro-allied processing and packaging industries to overcome the challenge associated with startups.