NIGERIA – Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has facilitated international training and certification for 12 Nigerian agro-allied companies to ensure compliance with international standards and encourage export of value-added agro-industrial products to the western markets.

The council said this would boost international participation of Nigerian food processors and entrepreneurs, which, in turn, would deepen production, employment opportunities and gross domestic product (GDP).

The selected participants were trained on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), one of the certifications required to export products to the United Kingdom (UK).

HACCP certification is proof that goods are safe for consumption and free from biological and chemical contaminants.

For food industry export to the western world, standards, such as Food Safety Management System (ISO 22000); HACCP, British Retail Consortium (BRC), Food Safety System Certification (FSSC 22000), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), are required.

The trainer, TOPCertifier, a global organization specializing in certifications, while harping on the importance of the training for businesses, said certification in Nigeria had been primarily driven by the robust local food commodities industry, supported by a strong demand from small-scale manufacturing industries.

“With the current COVID-19 scenario, we have seen new demand for food products, personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves,” the trainer said.

Globally, organizations are placing more emphasis on processes and certifications in the current scenario.

Businesses are required to get certified for regulatory purposes, including safe and secure workplace, safe products, to protect customer and public information and legal and regulatory compliance.

Others are for contractual purposes such as requirement for export, eligibility for tenders, requirement for vendor empanelment, compliance with client processes and compliance with industry best practices.

Parts of the purposes are branding credibility, brand positioning, edge over competitors, satisfied employees and satisfied customers.

The council had earlier in May equipped 11 exporters with the HACCP certification to reduce the high level of rejection of made-in-Nigeria goods at the international market.

NEPC conducts a series of certification awareness training programmes for manufacturing and food-processing companies, including MSMEs across the country from time to time.