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Prof. Tom Yormah speaks on "Made in Sierra Leone"

3 October 2018 at 05:08 | 1189 views

Local Content Press Briefing on Launching of

"Made in Sierra Leone" Products

at

Ministry of Trade and Industry

On 01 October 2018

Statement

by

Prof. Thomas B. R. Yormah

Director, Sierra Leone Standards Bureau

Mr. Chairman,

All protocols duly observed.

A nation that overwhelmingly consumes what it does not produce and lacks the capacity to mobilise the requisite foreign exchange to underpin such a warped consumption profile is doomed to remain underdeveloped and beggarly.

Some of the factors that influence the preference of consumption between locally produced versus foreign imported products include:

Quality

Packaging meant to lure appeal

Availability

Knowledge and awareness/sensitisation about the products

In almost all cases "quality" - which in layman’s terms means "high standards" and which in turn refers to the property to satisfy the desired purpose with little or no undesirable side effects/outcomes, is the key determining factor in determining choices. This is particularly true in the case of food stuffs.

We all know that the imperative to feed a growing population has dictated the use of technology that maximises yields - reflecting greater harvest per unit of input. These technologies, which mostly involve the use of chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics, animal-fattening steroids, etc. are routinely deployed by farmers in the more affluent foreign economies. Depending on the mode of handling these chemicals are known to persist and are present in these imported foods that we eat. Processing of these foods also involve the use of chemicals as preservatives, food colouring agents and flavourings meant to improve taste, smell and sight appeal. Research has revealed that these chemical residues in the foods that we eat are harmful to our health.

On the other hand, our local foods are produced largely under unspoilt environmentally serene conditions without the heavy use of chemicals - which our farmers cannot afford anyway. Because of their relatively higher quality in the sense that they lack harmful chemical residues, these "organic foods" are highly sought after in especially foreign markets. I believe it is such advantages that we must highlight in packaging our local foods with the view of giving them a competitive edge in the local and international markets.

In our campaign to promote "Made in Sierra Leone" products we must not sacrifice quality. In this vein it is worth noting that The Sierra Leone Standards Bureau is positioned to register and test local products for conformity to quality standards and to undertake shelf-life studies. The dilemma we may be faced with here is that some of our local producers may not be able to afford the cost of such laboratory tests considering the high costs of equipment, maintenance, reagents, power, etc. involved in carrying out the tests. This, I believe, will call for a government policy decision on the prices charged for tests and analyses - at least at the initial stages of the roll out of the "Made in Sierra Leone" brands. In essence The Bureau can be counted upon as a reliable partner in "midwifing" the teething stage of what I see as our own ’industrial revolution’.

I thank you for your kind attention

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