The Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) has expressed concern over substandard products that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are producing, a development that is stagnating Malawi’s export base.
MBS director of quality assurance services Steve Kamuloni made the remarks during the industry awareness seminar on the development of a robust standardisation, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology (Sqam) project in Blantyre on Wednesday.
He said there are a number of interventions that MBS through Sqam is undertaking to ensure that SMEs up their products standard.
He said: “We offer technical assistance for development of quality management systems and food safety management systems in selected SMEs as well as food and personal hygiene training, those we have assisted are now producing quality products ready for certification.
“So far, seven SMEs namely Project Peanut Butter, Capital Oil Refining Industries [Cori], Polyplast, Promat, Linga Winery, Mzuzu Coffee Processors and Ethanol Company (Ethco) have benefited from the technical assistance while 60 managers from different SMEs have benefited from the food and personal hygiene.”
“SMEs play a very important role in the social-economic development of a country, but if they do not have the capacity to understand the standards and requirements needed to achieve certification of their products, there is no way they can penetrate the international market.”
In a separate interview, Small and Medium Enterprise Association (Smea) president James Chiutsi concurred with Kamuloni that there are a lot of substandard products produced in the country which he said was due to lack of research and development services.
Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism Principal Secretary is on record having said offering substandard products does not only negate consumer welfare and perpetuate poverty, but also wash down the trust of our local and international partners and clientele.n