Quality control – this is the first step to adding value, it first involves setting criteria for higher quality. In agro-processing it involves separating the product from the chaff, it is still common to buy beans or rice with stones in it, or to find a plethora of different beans in a sack.
Packaging – good packaging may seem to be an added cost but it has advantages. Not only does the product look more attractive but proper packaging also protects the products from the elements and pests.
Branding – once the product has been packaged the next step is branding. Branding is what separates one product from another.
In Rwanda beans are just beans, but if someone introduced their own brand of beans and guaranteed the quality and quantity they, then, would sell their beans to hotels, supermarkets, and shops in general.
A brand is a guarantee; when someone buys a bottle of Coca Cola they expect a certain quality and quantity- the same applies to any product.
Innovation – After your product has been launched and marketed then innovation is important; one has to be able to adapt to the needs of the market. It has to become a circular process that takes you back to the beginning.
Having feedback is important in order to stay competitive as this will inform what products you diversify into in the future.
These simple steps apply to any business, whether products are tangible or service based; people do not mind paying more if the product is saving them time while providing quality.
For example the time spent sorting through beans before you cook them can be spent more productively elsewhere, so it is a saving.
Higher quality is a way to increase earnings and stand out from the crowd in a time when people pay higher prices due to inflation while the quality remains the same. Value addition is an ethos that should dominate our outlook on business.
A waiter can add value by providing good service, a cook can provide added value by improving his/her cooking, indeed it is about improving yourself as a person through the skills you provide.
We should not wait for NGO’s to tell us how to add value because we are capable of doing it ourselves. Value addition stems from a need to be competitive and gain an edge in whatever field one is operating. These standards have to be ingrained in our thinking.
In order for us achieve higher standards for the export market, we need to process our products better in order to gain more foreign exchange but that will only happen if we set ourselves on a course of value addition.
It is the only way to provide employment and for people to carve out a niche for themselves. We have so many products for sale such a red peppers, Moringa oil, vanilla, paprika, cloves, chives, the list is endless but in order to be exported then we need value added to them in order to justify the cost of transporting them. What value have you added today?