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16.10.2008 Business & Finance

No dairy for yoghurt producers in dry season

By The Statesman

Small enterprises in developing countries typically cite lack of access to finance as an important constraint on their operations.

This lack of access is often associated with financial policies and bank practices that make it hard for banks to cover the high costs and risks involved in lending to small firms

But the director of Nanee Enterprise,  producers' of  nanee yoghurt Abena Aninakwa her worry include the inability of industry players to source fresh cow milk as raw materials in the dry season for the production of yoghurt. 

"During the rainy season,' she explained, 'we have surplus of milk - far more than we can use.

'However, when the dry season comes around, we find ourselves lacking the raw materials to produce our natural yoghurts, due to the lack of milk.'

She explained that, in response to the problem, the Ministry of Agriculture recently started importing milking cows to Ghana, in an attempt to quell the problem.

However, although the Ministry"s initiative has helped significantly, competition for the milk remains high in the dry season, with dairy producers fighting for the limited supplies.

Many such SMEs are also struggling financially, observed the Nanee representative, being forced to take out high interest loans from banks to cover their running costs. 

'It would help many SMEs greatly if the government could find a way to offer lower interest loans and additional resources,' she commented. 

'However, I'm not sure if this is a priority for the government, and therefore probably does not represent a real possibility.'

But the Chief Director of the Trade Ministry Seth Evans said one of the biggest challenges to most of the country's Small and Medium Scale enterprise is the ability of their products to meet certified standards.

Quality, he said 'is at the heart of demands for both industrial and final goods by consumers in foreign and domestic markets'.

Striving to attain the production of quality goods allows companies to compete successfully, by bring down internal costs reducing defects and improving the management process.

He emphasised the importance of high standards, if SMEs are to successfully compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

'In this era of globalisation and competitiveness, every category of products and services is characterised by accelerating changes, innovation and massive amounts of new information,' commented Mr Addo.

'Commitments to product quality and customer satisfaction programmes,' he explained, 'are essential for companies to compete.'

Using the example of the ISO 9000 series, a Quality Management System developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the Chief Director underlined the value of such a system, and the necessity for manufacturers and service organisers to set quality standards in order to be effective competitors.

'[ISO 9000] can be used by the management of companies to improve performance and obtain high quality output,' Mr Addo said.

Furthermore, the Chief Director pointed to recent high profile food safety scares, such as the case of melamine being found in infant milk and reports of some food products in Ghana failing to meet Food Safety Standards, to illustrate the importance of such Quality Management Systems.