The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said that it will go beyond its core regulatory mandate to help small and medium scale businesses in the country’s North-east region affected by the 12-year insurgency to help the people survive the post-conflict era.
NAFDAC’s Director General, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, said the agency’s mandate will be tailored towards supporting economic recovery in the region.
In a statement by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, in Lagos on Sunday, 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.
She said 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.
Adeyeye, who was represented by NAFDAC’s Zonal Director, North-east, Dr Bukar Usman, at a stakeholders’ workshop in Maiduguri, Borno State last Friday, 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.
Speaking on the impact of the conflict, the NAFDAC DG said that nearly 90 per cent of the economic life of the people in the region 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.
She 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 10 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,” she said.
According to her, the huge investment that the Borno State Government 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 expressed hope that most of the agro-allied value chain enterprises that will spring up in Borno and the Lake Chad region will go into the processing, packaging and preservation of agricultural products.
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.
“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.”
Adeyeye 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.