Malawi’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has asked community-based groups under the One Village One Product (Ovop) initiative to improve the quality of their products to penetrate foreign markets.
The ministry’s spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said in an interview on Thursday that Ovop, whose secretariat is now under the Ministry of Trade, now operates in various areas for the improvement of the products.
He said Ovop does not rush to certify locally made products for international recognition, but observes product standards and quality to attract foreign markets after being endorsed by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS).
“I assure you that Ovop will make it possible for locally made products to reach international standards when such products are of the desired quality. Ovop will give certificates in such circumstances so that cooperatives sell their products even outside Malawi,” he said.
Nkombezi said rural factories under the Ovop programme are there to help cooperatives to add value to their products to become more attractive.
“There are new machines installed in some areas by Ovop and the whole idea is to add value to the products. There are other Ovop groups that are monitored in terms of quality by MBS with the aim to industrialise rural areas and more factories will be decentralised so that quality of products is improved and maintained.
“We have other Ovop groups that are adding value to products through packaging such as in honey and rice production,” he said.
Nkombezi said the ministry and Ovop are working hard to ensure that products are certified. He added that MBS and the Ovop secretariat will intervene and oversee the operations of the community based cooperatives.
“The issue of quality is of paramount importance because when we are doing value addition we have to make sure we are also looking at quality and standards. As a ministry responsible, we wish to improve the products that we export more because we cannot talk of export while overlooking the issue of quality,” said Nkombezi.
Recently, MBS certified an Ovop group, Kamwendo Cooperative, from Mchinji with a licence in cooking oil production. The cooperative also received an award from the Japanese Government, according to Nkombezi.