Food safety is a global issue of increasing concern for governments, food producers, food processors and handlers, as well as consumers. For Africa and particularly the Southern African region, governments are always putting much effort and funds into solutions for food security. However, the progress made has not made the region food secure. Nonetheless, while governments create platforms for development, the major drivers of development are private sectors entities.
While production systems may be established in the region, adding value to what has been produced is a major challenge for the region, and to do this various players in the system are needed to create an ecosystem for innovation. One such player is research institutions and universities – normally known for generating students – but they also generate knowledge that can be used to create jobs and build businesses. SANBio with the support of the BioFISA II Programme facilitated an engagement between regional entrepreneurs and the University of Namibia’s Department of Food Science and Technology at its Neudamm Campus in Windhoek, to add value in meat and dairy products.
The training covered various aspects of food sciences and included food safety and hygiene topics such as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) systems and good manufacturing practices (GMP). Other topics covered included scaling up of production and marketing, customer acquisition as well as financial planning. At the end of the week, it was clear that the training had equipped the entrepreneurs with knowledge and some practical experience on how to add value to meat and dairy products.
“With the knowledge acquired from the training, the opportunity is there for us to move forward. In addition, we now have a network of peers. For instance, we have tentatively agreed with my Botswana counterpart to explore the possibility of selling precooked and packed offals in Zambia. I now think that for new comers, it is important to start small, know your market and get to learn new skills in food processing and networking. Value addition makes a big difference in the meat industry,” remarked Zoole Newa from Nashlom Suppliers, a company focused on processed meats.
He was one of 10 participants, including Peggy Nyirenda Mwape, a Zambian dairy farmer who works with communities to produce milk that is supplied to Parmalat, and with this training she aims to start yoghurt production. Marien Makoni from Zimbabwe runs a community based business that produces milk and aims to implement some of the HACCP systems introduced to her during the training. Thabo Molefe of EarthVitamins Foods in Botswana already exports his biltong products to South Africa and will now look at exploring other markets going forward.
In this financial year, SANBio with the support of the BioFISA II Programme will be funding several institutions to build capacity in technical and entrepreneurship skills in the SADC region in an effort to foster innovation and add value to the resources that the region harbours. For more information, click here.