How Nafdac Can Encourage Micro, Small Scale Enterprises
It is widely known in Nigeria that the agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring quality of goods, drugs and other related items is National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
In fact, her main duty is to regulate and control the importation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution, sales and use of goods, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals, conduct appropriate test and ensure compliance with standard specifications and undertake appropriate investigation into the production premises and raw materials for food and drugs e.t.c.
In other words, for the country to develop economically, the focus of the agency is the prevention of the adulteration and counterfeiting of food and drugs, while the role of micro and small scale enterprises cannot be overemphasized.
Therefore, efforts of the government and its agencies must be geared toward assisting and supporting the micro and small scale enterprises to survive, grow and expand, so that they can create employment for our teeming youths, through the use local raw materials for production, thereby creating demand for their products and services which will increase the gross domestic product of the country.
In recent times, entrepreneurs of micro, small and medium scale enterprises have experienced untold hardship, fear and anxiety over the stringent conditions of NAFDAC that could lead to confiscation of their products without concrete evidence that such products are inimical and dangerous to health despite registration and evaluations of such products with NAFDAC
Examples abound where someone that is producing a fruit juice "Acoipac" (not real name) in a well packaged carton with the NAFDAC registration number and content indicated on the packaged product including the address of the company expressly stated.
However, because the company did not comply with a particular regulation in land mass, type of building and safety measures that should be available in the factory to become a standard (and not that the product were found to be substandard), all the products were packed and destroyed without any cogent reasons from NAFDAC officials.
After a chat by this writer with the business owner, it was gathered that owing to paucity of funds and inaccessibility to bank loan, there was no way he could satisfy other NAFDAC regulations.
After a deep thought about the plight of this producer and others facing similar challenges, I believe NAFDAC should be eager to support and assist such manufacturers/producers to meet their guidelines by providing avenue for them to access loan from the Bank of Industry and other financial institutions in so far as their products are genuine and good for consumption, if truly Nigeria is hoping to become the largest economy in Africa through diversification into the real sector of the economy.
Similarly NAFDAC should stand as guarantor for such enterprises in accessing funds from the Bank of Industry particularly where it can demand for the certificate of incorporation of such micro and small enterprises before advancing loan to them through the NAFDAC recommendation. NAFDAC on its part ensures that they comply with their requirements while the companies pay back the loan on weekly or monthly bases to the BOI before their original certificates of incorporation are released to them.
This alternative option will give room for goods and services to be produced by more micro and small scale enterprises and also enable them to register with NAFDAC, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS) and Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) for monitoring and supervision .
While agreeing that the standards put in place by NAFDAC is in the best interest of the people, I strongly recommend that the orthodox punitive action of agency should be reviewed to accommodate genuine businesses that produce genuine products. These should be separated from those that produce fake and substandard products.Those who lack funds to put other requirements such as large building, space, safety measures and the rest in place should be encouraged overtime to develop.
Akintan lectures at Crescent University, Abeokuta,Ogun State and can be reached via [email protected]