By Chioma Obinna
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, no less than 200 operators of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME, in Nigeria were granted 100 percent zero registration fee from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in 2020.
Disclosing this on Sunday in a statement, the NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said after the first 200 applicants, others were given 80 percent zero registration fee, even as late renewal fees were waived for those whose NAFDAC registration licenses expired during the same period.
Adeyeye, who dismissed allegations that it was a herculean task for MSME to obtain the required certification for NAFDAC registration, argued that the average MSME entrepreneur would testify to the cordial relationship with the agency currently and in the recent past.
Affirming that the agency’s timeline for the processing of products for registration was just 90 days, she debunked the insinuations in certain quarters that NAFDAC was frustrating registration efforts of MSMEs, even as she explained that consistent efforts are on towards ensuring timelines are met, amongst which are the deployment of a robust e-registration platform called NAFDAC Product Administration and Monitoring System (NAPAMS), which has the capacity for monitoring and assessment of timelines.
“Timely response to issues raised with applications is required. Some of the compliance issues that are frequently observed range from labeling lapses, inadequate documentation, increased product analysis failure rate & product rejects, especially with highly sensitive products like detection of cyanide in cassava-related products.
“The ongoing training and re-trainings of prospective NAFDAC Applicants/MSMEs entrepreneurs on principles of Good Agricultural Practices and other relevant techniques are helping in yielding the desired reduction of such failures.”
Continuing, she said if there is a sector that has been supported by NAFDAC the most, it is MSMEs because the registration fee was reduced 80 percent for six months last year.
“We did it for MSMEs because they are key to our economy. The COVID 19 pandemic might have slowed down some people who might have wanted to register. But six months out of the nine months of the pandemic in 2020 was devoted to rendering help to the MSMEs,” she stated
The D-G, however, admitted that because some of our MSMEs are not very computer literate, they may have challenges in terms of e-registration, adding that some are being helped to register. “That is why we talk about assisted registration procedure. We will help those who do not know how to use a computer to register.
“If anybody goes online to start our registration process, and encounters any problem there is an internet/online assistant that will ask can I help you.’ I have tried it myself and you can type any request, which would be attended to online.
Adeyeye noted that there is no shortcut to improvement with technology or trade.
“Some people that have products that they think could be exported, take shortcuts. They do not go to NAFDAC to test their products before they are exported. Thereafter, the government of the receiving country stops the product, and they reject it and destroy it. We all need to learn not to take shortcuts.”
She said the Agency would continue to render unflinching support to MSMEs to enable them to continue to act as a catalyst to Nigeria’s economic rejuvenation.
Globally, she said MSMEs contribute up to 45 percent of total employment and up to 33 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in emerging economies.
“In a recent review of a 2017 survey on MSMEs, it was revealed that in Nigeria, there were 41.4 million MSMEs and about 99 percent belonged to the micro sub-sector.
“MSMEs are the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation and inclusive economic development; and the most important component of industrialisation as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government.”
She stated that the significance of MSMEs in the nation’s economy cannot be over-emphasised.
Regarding the granting of approval for MSME production sites, the NAFDAC helmswoman said If we go to a production site to check whether the place is fit for the manufacturing or packaging of products for human consumption and the place is found to be filthy and may make people sick, we will not approve the site, adding that we will say ok do this or do that. If people are not patient to take corrections, they may feel frustrated. We have supported MSMEs to a great extent and we will continue to support them.
Adeyeye admonished the MSMEs to always ensure that they comply with all relevant government policies and regulations; collaborate more amongst themselves to jointly engage government constructively on issues concerning them; foster unity and cohesion for increased resources in achieving better economic benefits.