SMEs tipped on international quality standards obligation

Small and medium enterprises have undergone training in Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), a safety production certification required by the international market.
A fruit juice producer. Local foodstuff exporters face the challenge of meeting international standards. The New Times / T. Kisambira.
A fruit juice producer. Local foodstuff exporters face the challenge of meeting international standards. The New Times / T. Kisambira.

Small and medium enterprises have undergone training in Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), a safety production certification required by the international market.

Lack of the HACCP system was cited as a hindrance to local small and medium exporters; the system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging and distribution.

Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) came up with the capacity building strategy which has seen dozens of small and medium companies countrywide trained on ways they can implement the system to attain the required international standards.

“If you want to enter new markets and get higher returns, as an SME you must incur the cost that enables you get the certification,” said Mark Priestley, Country Director for TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

Priestley added that the certification would improve the quality of exports and make them more attractive to consumers on the international market.

“The program will see 24 companies trained to meet food safety standards, HACCP, as well as train 10 auditors in the Rwanda Bureau of Standards to give out the certification,” he said.

Jean Pierre Bajeneza, Acting Head of Certification Unit at RBS, told SME owners during the training that the international market repels goods without the HACCP certification because of its importance in ascertaining the entire production chain.

“The term ‘hazard’ should not be confused with the term ‘risk’ in the context of food safety. It rather means the probability of an adverse effect like becoming diseased,” said Jean Pierre Bajeneza, Acting Head of Certification Unit at RBS.

Donata Kabalisa, a food processor, noted that certification of food stuffs will help improve sales by competing with foreign products as well as build consumer confidence in local products.

“It’s a considerate move by the government to assist SMEs in this initiate. The more local products are certified, the more safe they become and also consumers become confident. This will be helping us to increase our profits,” she pointed out.

The certification can act as substitute to the ISO Certification, which products from large companies such as Inyange have.

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