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FAO, ITC and I.M.A. S.p.A. to empower small and medium agro-enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa with packaging capacities

30/03/2017

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs) in sub–Saharan countries are going to benefit from a project jointly implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), aiming to equip them with packaging skills. The three year-project is funded by I.M.A. S.p.A., an Italian company which is a global leader in the design and manufacture of automatic machinery for the packaging of food, beverages and pharmaceuticals.

The project entitled ‘Improving food packaging for Small and Medium Agro-Enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa’ aims to improve access for SMAEs to appropriate food packaging systems that add value to their products, reduce food losses and enhance their competitiveness in the market.  It will thus contribute to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of food supply chains for the benefit of all food chain actors. The project will be implemented in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.

In the framework of agreements that FAO signed with ITC and IMA S.p.A. respectively, ITC will provide its extensive experience of food packaging systems on the African continent, while I.M.A. S.p.A.  funds the project.

A joint FAO-ITC mission, composed of Stepanka Gallatova and Djibril Drame (FAO), and Frederic Couty (ITC) , was undertaken in Tanzania to introduce the project to key stakeholders, and to discuss with government, private sector and other actors their ideas, roles and potential contributions towards the implementation of the project. The mission also identified key stakeholders to lead the subsequent implementation of selected project activities such as needs assessment, feasibility studies and capacity building towards the development of sustainable food packaging systems.  

Speaking at the project’s inception workshop in Dar es Salaam, the FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero, noted that the project has come at the right time for Tanzania, with the country aiming to industrialize its economy. According to him, in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, poor packaging is one of the main reasons for the failure of locally manufactured food products to compete favourably with imported ones. “Overcoming the packaging constraints of small and medium agro-enterprises which manufacture the bulk of locally processed food products, will contribute to strengthen the entire food supply chain, improve the competitiveness of SMAEs and benefit all food chain actors and consumers,” he said.

On his part, Frederic Couty, Senior Packaging Advisor from ITC, highlighted the pivotal role that packaging and labelling plays in assuring food safety and quality as well as facilitating distribution and marketing of food products.

The Director of Training and Regional Administration at the Tanzania’s Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO), Joyce Richard Meru, said that the project is an impetus to the country’s efforts to start sourcing packaging materials locally. “Most producers are forced to import packaging materials from abroad which makes their products expensive and less competitive in the market. SIDO has started a centre for designing and producing packaging materials to ensure producers have access to affordable, quality packaging materials in order to increase the competitiveness of their products in the market,” she said.