Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) said it has strengthened its laboratory services nationwide for quality assurance as it seeks to end global rejection of Nigerian products.
The Director-General of SON, Farouk Salim, who disclosed this, lamented that efforts made by the Federal Government to make export-bound products from Nigeria acceptable have repeatedly failed in the past due to complaints that are directly or remotely linked to quality, standard, certification and appropriate packaging.
He also said apart from crude oil, Nigeria has struggled to make appreciable gains from exports, noting that from perishable consumable to finished products, exporters have faced rejection at the international markets, mostly because they fail to meet up with the standards set by the destination country’s regulatory authorities.
He noted that while sanitary and phytosanitary issues in foods have been major grounds for the rejection of Nigerian food exports, the agency’s laboratories embarked on the journey of accreditation as far back as the year 2009, which led to the accreditation of Food Technology Laboratory in areas of biological and chemical testing in 2014 by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).
Salim noted that the agency is, however, celebrating the accreditation of three more laboratories at its laboratory Complex at Ogba in accordance with the recognised ISO/IEC 17025:2017.
“Presently, SON has five principal laboratories located around the country. In addition to the competencies of the newly accredited laboratories, SON’s food technology laboratories have competence in testing food samples in physico-chemical parameters such as moisture, ash, protein, fat, crude, fibre, heavy metals. Other areas of competence of the laboratories include microbiology parameters such as aerobics plate count, coliforms, escherichia coil, yeasts and mould, salmonella app, listeria monocytogenes, staphylococcus aureus and enterobacteriaceae,” Salim said.
Speaking on the relevance of the accreditation, Salim said it ensures acceptance of test results within and beyond borders, greater control of laboratory processes, customer satisfaction based on the integrity of the results and brand value addition.
According to him, “it is intended to also promote local content by offering subsidized and quality testing services to local manufacturers and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as facilitate income generation through maximisation of costs for local manufacturers, who would not need to send products across borders for pre-shipment testing for goods meant for export.”
He added that the accreditation of the agency’s laboratories would facilitate trade recognition, as well as enhance and promote global competitiveness of made in Nigeria goods through quality testing services.
This, he said, would reduce the incidence of rejection of exported goods by offering quality-testing services for farm produce meant for exports.
The SON DG further called on stakeholders to partner with the agency by patronising its accredited laboratories for food, chemical and electrical testing.
The immediate past Director, Laboratory Services, Mrs. Mojisola Kehinde, who spoke during the presentation of certificate of accreditation in the scopes of paint testing, electrical testing and micronutrients testing in Lagos, said SON’s mandate to carry out testing, as stated in SON ACT of 2015, is never in doubt as to the current reality of World Trade indicates test results from the country has to be globally accepted.