NIGERIA – The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Thursday said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would play major role in the newly drafted standards for cassava products in the country.
Dr Joseph Odumodu, the Director General of SON, said this in Lagos at the conclusion of the work of a technical committee set to up to elaborate and review standards of cassava products.
“It was not the first time SON is elaborating standards on cassava products. It was just a combination of review and elaboration of new ones,” he said.
Odumodu, who was represented by Mr Louis Njoku, Head of Laboratory in SON, said that cassava had been adopted by the African Union as one of its focal crops.
He said that standardisation of cassava bread was on the agenda of the African Regional Organisation for Standardisation Agenda.
“The benefits of our deliberations today go beyond Nigeria and will also transcend to the entire African continent.
“This multi-faceted summit also placed emphasis on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
“The SMEs have over the years been encouraged by successive administrations,” he said.
Odumodu said that SMEs needed standards to play a pivotal role in the value chain of cassava production which would go a long way in advancement of the policy and create wealth.
“SON’s policy in supporting the SMEs is in the provision of standards and codes of practice guiding the implementation of standards and contributes to wealth creation and food security.
“Going by surveys carried out by research institutes in recent times, cassava has become a very vital raw material in bread making, confectionaries, coating of fish and chicken for frying, production of biscuits and others,” he said.
Mrs Margaret Eshiet, Head of CODEX and Food Department in SON, said that the reviewed standards would give priority attention to SMEs in the cassava processing values chain.
“The economy of this country cannot grow except the SMEs are encouraged.
“We are under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, so we have to transform our vision by focusing on our industrial base.
“The essence of the forum is to connect SMEs with the end users of the cassava flour and ensure the latter meets the standards and quality of the former.
“The national bakers and other stakeholders are all here; so our mandate is to implement the transformation agenda to make cassava have added value and ensure that there is wealth creation,” she said.
Prof. Lateef Sanni of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, said all relevant stakeholders needed to work with research institutes, SON and SMEs to create food security and employment opportunities.
“It is good we have all the major stakeholders present and we are all speaking the same language on the way forward and I see a lot of it for the SMEs.
“I think the flour millers are now more accommodating for the inclusion of high quality cassava products,” Sanni said – NAN