FDA boosts gov’t industrialization agenda

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has recorded more than 90 percent in product registration following implementation of the authority’s flagship Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS).

The PLS is an initiative of the FDA launched more than two years ago to support micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) to progressively comply with good manufacturing practices (GMP) to ensure quality and safe products on the market.

It contributes significantly to economic development by maintaining consumer confidence in the food system and providing sound regulatory foundations to support the government’s industrialization agenda.

The PLS, coupled with the FDA’s risk-based product registration process, has ensured that locally manufactured food, cosmetics and household chemical substances reach the market faster without compromising their quality, safety, or wholesomeness.

The scheme uses a three-tier approach for licensing micro and small-scale manufacturing facilities: issuing pink, yellow, or green licenses based on the level of compliance. The targetted good manufacturing practice training and technical assistance provided to clients of the PLS enables them to meet fundamental requirements of GMP.

Data from the FDA indicates that prior to the commencement of PLS in 2019, five percent of micro and small-scale enterprises that applied for licensing were licensed only after meeting the full requirements. Following the implementation of PLS, however, this has increased to 100 percent. As at the end of December 2022, 952 facilities had been licensed under the PLS. The breakdown includes 660 food manufacturing facilities and 292 cosmetics and household chemical substances.

For products registered prior to the commencement of PLS in 2019, 52 percent of them were registered. Following the implementation of the PLS, this has also increased to 91 percent. To date, a total of 2,917 products have been registered under PLS: 2,405 food products and 512 cosmetics and household chemical substances.

The PLS commenced with the food industry in 2020, and cosmetics and household chemical substances industry in 2021. This year will see the inclusion of herbal medicines. This move, the FDA explained, is to extend the success stories of PLS to the herbal medicine industry.

The PLS complements the FDA’s ‘Buy Ghana, Love Ghana’ campaign initiative which aims to stock 60 percent locally manufactured FDA-regulated products in high-end supermarket chains across the country. To achieve this, the FDA says it is committing to collaborating with supermarkets to stock products registered by it.

FDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Delese Mimi Darko, emphasised her outfit’s commitment to ensuring that products which are registered through the scheme meet both local and international standards. “We are determined to continuously pursue this agenda with our partners, including the GEA, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, and the Ghana Standards Authority.”

Dr. Darko also called on local manufacturers to increase their production levels while maintaining high-quality standards at competitive prices in order to boost domestic demand.

Data from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) shows that non-traditional exports (NTEs) have significantly increased since 2017, and particularly in 2020 when the PLS was introduced. For example, NTEs earnings for the period January to December 2021 amounted to US$3.33billion, reflecting a growth of 17 percent over the 2020 earnings. The bulk of these exportable products falls within the framework of the PLS, comprising cocoa paste, refined palm olein, powdered pepper, fruit juice, processed shea, plantain snacks and cosmetics, among others.

The PLS has already absorbed part of the licensing fee of some 500-member facilities to the tune of almost GH¢1.850million. These companies are micro or small enterprises as defined by the Ghana Enterprise Agency.

The three-stage licensing level of the PLS (i.e., Pink, Yellow and Green) focuses on small and micro-scale and cottage-scale food and cosmetics producers. The scheme relies on high-quality, transparent and independent scientific advice.

Benefits of the scheme include access to technical support and training in good manufacturing practices, shorter processing periods, and subsidize application fees.

The success story of PLS cannot be told without mentioning FDA’s strong collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency-Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works programme that provided funds for young entrepreneurs on the PLS.

FDA urged all micro and small-scale manufacturers in food, cosmetics and household chemical substances and herbal medicine industries to join the scheme.