Abdulwahab Salawo’s company produces Corn Delight, a brand of power-processed and packaged maize. Corn Delight can be used to make pap or tuwo.
Salawo has been trying to register this product with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to no avail.
He said, “Trying to get NAFDAC registration has not been easy. They said I need to have a fortified house where I produce the items. They also said they need to see the packaging and raw materials, the production room and so on.
“We use sterilisers to ensure that the water is good for consumption. After I did that, NAFDAC officials came and said what is recommended is a borehole and not a well. I asked whether I had to construct a borehole in somebody’s house that I am renting. Anyway, since then, I got stuck and have not been able to continue the process of the registration.”
Hadiza Sani is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nafniz Oils, makers of coconut and lamon oils. Her story is similar to that of Salawo.
She said, “NAFDAC said we should get an accredited public food analyst to analyse our products. We are doing that now and then NAFDAC will also certify this in their labs before we can get certification.
“I must say the procedure has been cumbersome and we wish government can make things easier for small businesses to thrive in the country.”
Responding to these issues, the Director, Special Duties, of NAFDAC, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, said the agency had made the process of getting the registration number easier for small business owners.
Dr. Jimoh said, “About five years ago, we created the Small Scale Business Support Desk (SSBSD). The aim is to help people with little capital to register their products. Now the financial requirement has been crashed by 50 per cent.
We have even decentralised the registration process. We have directors at the zonal offices who can approve registration of some items and then send the paperwork to Abuja to be completed.”
He said when the registration form was taken, the business owner should follow the guideline and set up a small factory which could be a room and a parlour or a hall that had been properly demarcated.
“Once that is done, we look at the raw materials, the production area and staff. They will produce a few samples which are taken to the lab and tested. Once the parameters are met, we will expedite action and register them.
“We know small business owners may not have laboratories, hence they can go to any public food analyst who has established a laboratory for testing food items. The approval the analyst gives is what they should attach to their registration forms,” Jimoh explained.
He said NAFDAC was not putting road blocks on the way for small businesses, but that it was trying to ensure authenticity and quality.
“We are a scientific organization, and as much as government is trying to promote ease of doing business, we must strike a balance with promoting public health. Things like pipe borne water which has been treated by the water board or borehole is still the standard for production.
“SMEs can come to our small business support desk and we will teach them how to go about it. We are not just a scientific organisation; we also have a social responsibility to the society. If the Nigerian economy has to do well, we have to encourage small businesses,” Jimoh said.
Speaking at a press conference recently, the Special Assistant on MSMEs and Coordinator, National MSMEs Clinic in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Tola Adekunle Johnson, said government had approved that shared facilities be established for MSMEs in some states to solve some of their challenges.
Mr. Johnson said, “As the clinics have gone by, we have noticed that some MSMES come together as clusters, but then they don’t have money to buy equipment for their clusters. So, what we are trying to do as a government is to partner with interested states whereby they will give us facilities and we as Federal Government will get equipment for at least five of the clusters per state.
“For instance, if you are manufacturing sachet water, come into the building, pay a token, manufacture your sachet water – that building would have been certified by NAFDAC and SON – so when you have manufactured you are going to sell.”
He said a few of the equipment would be launched before the end of the year in Abia, Anambra, Osun and Plateau states.
“Some of the shared facilities we are looking at are in leather work and shea butter processing facilities,” he concluded.