Promoting Equitable Economic Growth and Food Security through Quality AssuranceJun 23, 2017
Malawi, a landlocked country whose economy is largely dependent on Agriculture, has a limited manufacturing industry which only contributes 11% of the GDP. This however does not impede Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) from committing to providing standardization and conformity assessment services that meet international quality standards.
Established in 1972, MBS was mandated with promotion and encouragement of standardization in relation to commodities, processes and practices. However, over the years, its role has expanded to include the provision of services in relation to conformity assessment (certification, inspection and testing, and calibration) and metrology. Its main activities include: facilitating the development of standards and other requirements to which particular commodities, services, practices and processes must comply; monitoring for compliance; conducting tests and calibrating instruments; certifying products and management systems; and providing industrial training in standardization.
For fully recognized certification to be achieved by the private sector, MBS requires internationally accredited testing facilities and procedures, the main purpose of have a Robust Standardization,
Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) Project; whose aim, among others, is to ensure that the capacities of local Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are strengthened to comply with national and international quality requirements and thus have the opportunity to access local and export markets. The adherence to these quality requirements is imperative to gain market access!
Among the companies supported by MBS, under the SQAM project is Nali.
Nali Limited, founded in 1974 by the late Mr. Edward Khoromana, is a food processing company whose niche is pepper sauce and other condiments such as vinegar and honey. Their pepper sauce is in several flavours i.e. chicken braai, curry masala, garlic, ginger and steak braai. Nali Limited acknowledges the role which MBS is playing towards their achieving international standards suitable for any business in the industry.
ISO 22000 is the international standard that specifies the requirements for a food safety management system. The SQAM project is providing technical assistance to companies, amongst which Nali, to achieve certification of international facilities on management systems. This is an ongoing process.
In 1994, the company’s chilli range of products were validated by the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) as fit for export into the American market, an act that led the company to hire an extra 120 employees to the then 200. As much as Nali was ready to meet its new market demand, the
testing process was taking long, up to seven days. Each time they needed to export they had to submit the chilli for analysis at the MBS lab. “It is a time consuming process and sometimes we have clients giving up and going to another provider in another country,” said Ms. Orpa Khoromana, the finance director of the company.
This is now changing. Through SQAM, MBS has acquired and is still in the process of acquiring cutting equipment for testing and analysis and is moving toward international accreditation with the current equipment in place. The new microbiological analysis is expected to last 20 minutes, a very big difference from the one week it took. The tests include pathogenic bacteria analysis (listeria analysis, salmonella analysis, E. coli testing), food shelf life testing customized for each type of food group submitted for testing, packaging material, cleaning agents and additives. If the results yielded are compliant with the recommended standards, then food safety hazards are controlled and the products are likely to be ISO 22000 certified. ISO 22000 is the international standard which permits industries in the food chain to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that food is safe at the time of human consumption.
ISO International Standards help businesses of any size and sector reduce costs, increase productivity and quality, and access new markets. For small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), standards can help to: build customer confidence that products are safe and reliable; reduce costs across all aspects of your business; and gain market access across the world. Standards make market access easier, for SMEs. They can enhance brand recognition and give customers the guarantee that the products are tested, reliable; and the purchased product is of high quality.
Nali’s export webpage: http://www.nalisauce.com/
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Quick facts about SQAM