SON To Restate Standards On Cereal Products

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As part of attempts to increase breakfast meals with great dietary value primarily for children, a Technical Committee Meeting lately met in Lagos to acquire new Nigeria Industrial Standards for Cereal and Cereal products.

The Special Adviser to the Director-General/Head, Public Relations, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr. ‘Bola Fashina, revealed this in a report.

The move according to the committee, was also to facilitate the certification of existing cereal and cereal products in the market in order to continuously guarantee consumers value for their money.

According to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, cereals are traditional breakfast meals especially for children, made from processed cereal grains or any grass cultivated for the edible components.

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The Commission said further that processed cereal-based foods are prepared primarily from one or more milled grains, which should constitute at least 25% of the final mixture on a dry weight basis.

Declaring the meeting open, Director General, SON, Mr Osita Aboloma, explained that, “developing the Standards is a means of improving wellness and providing a nutritional diet for both the old and young.”

According to him, Nigeria stood to benefit from the development of the standards through products that are globally acceptable, which in turn would increase trade opportunities and competitiveness at the sub-regional, continental and global levels.

He stated that cereals were identified in different forms and grouped according to the grains used in their production, contents, as well as the processes used in creating a wholesome and acceptable product.

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Represented by the Director, Standards Development, Mrs Chinyere Egwuonwu, the DG SON enumerated specifications for the different kinds of cereals and stated that the development of the various standards was sacrosanct to the actualisation of healthy eating.

The Standards deliberated upon include cornflakes (obtained from maize flour or maize grit), rice crispy, also called Pops (from a mixture of Rice Flour and other ingredients by extrusion, cooking, drying and toasting), Oatmeal (derived from cereal grain oat (Avena Sativa) and Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal (low in saturated fat and cholesterol in order to reduce the risk of heart diseases).

The Chairman of the Technical Committee meeting, Prof. Sunday Ojo Adigbo, of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, disclosed that discussion on the draft Nigeria Industrial Standard for Soy Pop (derived from soya bean) was stepped down while a 6-member sub-committee of Manufacturers was set up to re-present a new draft to the TC later.

The elaboration of these standards according to Prof. Adigbo is in response to the increased demand, production, marketing and consumption of the products in the country.

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FG Pledges to Deepen Foreign Direct Investment

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, has said the ministry will attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the country by stimulating business linkages between large and small enterprises.

Adebayo said this at a stakeholders’ engagement for the Implementation of “Business Linkage Programme” for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Multinational Enterprises (MNES)/Large Local Cooperates (LLCs).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the meeting was organised by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to work out strategies for the business linkages.

Adebayo, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Investment Promotion Department, Mr Olajide Bamidele, said the ministry, through NIPC and SMEDAN, played an intermediary role in a comprehensive approach for promotion of sustainable business linkages.  The legal practitioner said they would equally provide a combination of advisory (policy-oriented) and technical assistance (action-oriented) services in the field of FDIs and enterprise development.

“FDI can add little to local development if there is a lack of adequately skilled human capital, absorptive capacity in local firms or incentives to transfer technology to local firms.

“There is a need to combine MSMEs support policies with FDIs attraction policies. Well, design MSMEs and FDIs policies can ensure that FDIs work for local enterprise development.”

He said stimulating business linkages had been a strategy for building local enterprises that could compete at home and abroad as well as meet employment goals.

“While it is generally accepted that MSMEs are the backbone of the economy, there is the need for coherent and fully worked out policies developed in consultation with the private sector to enhance their growth and survival,” he added.

The minister expected that the meeting would assist in uncovering hidden opportunities and business linkages in the MSMEs value chain in Nigeria.

According to Adebayo, business linkages between large enterprises such as Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and local suppliers can be channelled for transfer of technology, knowledge and skills to host economies.

The process, he said could enhance the competitiveness of developing countries and help them to capture the opportunities for increased trade and investment brought about by globalisation and economic liberalisation depending on the commitment of all partners.

Successful business linkages, therefore, involve more than simple matchmaking activities between large and small firms.

“We are aware that business between small and large enterprises particularly TNCs can contribute both to the competitiveness of the enterprises involved and the growth and development of the country.

“However, the establishment of a critical mass of sustainable linkages does not happen automatically as a direct consequence of the presence of TNCs, but requires the participation of all stakeholders, government supportive policies, TNCs and MSMEs vision and commitment,” he added.

In a keynote address, Dr Umar Dikko, the Director-General, SMEDAN said that the growth of MSMEs was critical and contributed significantly to the strength of the country’s economy.

Dikko who noted that the major challenges of MSMEs were lack of access to finance and market said that SMEDAN would continue to provide the enabling environment for them to overcome all the challenges, including skills and equipment challenges.

“As of 2017, we have about 41.5 million MSMEs in Nigeria, about 41.4 million are micro-enterprises, which is about 99.8 per cent.

“Micro enterprises employ about 59.6 million people, contribute to about 49.78 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and contribute to about 37.64 per cent of export. MSMEs are critical to the Nigerian economy, we need to support them to grow.”

Dikko said based on the statistics which revealed that MSMEs were the major contributor to economic growth, it introduced its Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) inaugurated in 2017 nationwide to empower the micro-businesses on various platforms to enhance growth to the next level.

The SMEDAN boss said that the scheme targeted 13,160 entrepreneurs at the pilot programme in six states across the zones, while the second phase empowered many entrepreneurs in Lagos, Bauchi, Sokoto and Anambra states.

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