Improving food safety – Supporting private sector development in Benin

Improving food safety – Supporting private sector development in Benin

Increasing Benin's access to global markets by improving its food products quality

If we cannot sell our products due to hygienic inefficiency, the factory will close and we will all loose our jobs. Today all staff understands this and is motivated to keep the work floor clean and help us obtain food safety accreditation. Training really changed mentalities!

Orokonnon Séraphin, Quality Manager at a cashew producing factory.

CONTEXT

Countries take measures to protect their consumers through food safety regulations. In 2002, the Beninese government decided to temporarily suspend export of Beninese shrimps to the EU as they were no longer in conformity with EU food safety standards. This example shows the importance of compliance with food norms. To respond to the challenges of being able to commercialise quality food products, the European Union, in partnership with the Belgian Development Agency, supports both the government and the SMEs in Benin, installing hygiene control systems to help them access foreign markets.

OBJECTIVES

  • Enhance competitiveness, quality and safety of agri-food products from Benin.
  • Boost awareness amongst the local population on the importance of good quality foods.
  • Support the National Agency for Food Safety by capacity building of its staff.
  • Contribute to the creation of a national food laboratory, in compliance with the internationally agreed ISO 17025 standard.

RESULTS

  • To date, 11 major food enterprises have invested in a complete food safety and quality management system and have been certified (HACCP certification) by international audit. The project has contributed € 104.000 for the necessary construction works.
  • 90 women’s groups or 439 individuals nationwide have been trained on Best Hygienic Practices by the project’s mobile training team.
  • Awareness on food safety has been increased among the local population by a largely diffused information campaign on national television and community radios.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 50 SMEs supported in building their own food safety plan
  • 11 SMEs benefited from investment in infrastructure works thereby improving the food quality control
  • Laboratory succeeded at 100% international comparison tests
  • Central Food Control Laboratory received 732 samples and diffused 3154 analyse reports in 2014

TESTIMONY

Benin Gold, Benin’s leading full-service cashew company

La Lumière is one of the three independently operated factories that are part of the common brand "Benin Gold", located in northern Benin. Without Food Safety Certification, the factory experienced great difficulties in entering international markets. A couple of years ago, they have lost a great number of international contracts due to a lack of documents proving their conformity to food safety standards.

Orokonnon Séraphin, the quality manager explains: "We were almost desperate when we lost some our most important clients due to lack of safety certificates. We tried other, informal, ways of entering markets that kept on refusing our product, until BTC (Belgian Development Agency, executing partner of the project) showed up and lead us on quality monitoring. Before the arrival of the project, no quality procedures were put in place. The factory was not clean enough. Now we know better."

"Today, we are evolving towards a full HACCP control system in order to satisfy our clients including on the European market. Our product is of great quality and deserves to be consumed all over the world."

"Our staff is even applying at home what they have learned during the training. Therefore they live in a more hygienic and thus healthier environment. They wash their work outfit every day and attend regular medical check-ups. On the work floor they pay much attention to the cleanliness of their tools and the work environment. When the soap is finished, they even come and ask me for more!"

"We are continuously looking for new, creative ways for training our illiterate staff. Maybe by using songs or sign boards … together we will get there!"