As a strategy for enhancing inclusive wealth creation and global competitiveness, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has called for the inclusion of more Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Mindanao in current efforts to accredit with international safety standards.
At the recent launching of the 3rd Batch of the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification Assistance Project in Cagayan de Oro City, MinDA Chair Luwalhati Antonino has cited the need to have more SMEs assisted with their accreditation requirements.
HACCP is a globally recognized systematic preventive approach to food and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards.
The H-CAP is part of the over-all strategy of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded GEM Program to promote more exports of targeted Mindanao commodities like fruit, vegetables, fish and high-value aquaculture to key foreign markets.
Under the H-CAP, GEM provides technical and co-funding assistance to Mindanao companies exporting these targeted commodities to acquire HACCP certification.
To date, 10 Mindanao-based exporting companies have been assisted by GEM under the H-CAP. GEM intends to increase the number of companies to be HACCP certified to 10-15 firms yearly over the next two years.
“We note the active participation of SMEs in GEM’s HCAP and this is a good indication that Mindanao SMEs are beginning to realize the importance of upgrading their existing systems and procedures to comply with international food safety standards,” Antonino said.
She stressed, however, that the project currently covers only Mindanao companies producing targeted commodities such as fruits, veggies, fish and aquaculture products for the export market are considered for HACCP accreditation.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) earlier proposed that GEM H-CAP include other Mindanao companies or SMEs that may not necessarily be exporting but are presently servicing the local market and have export potentials in the future.
Reiterating the DTI proposal, Antonino had requested the USAID through GEM, to expand coverage of H-CAP to include not just those that are already exporting target commodities, but also those SMEs that are servicing the local markets and have strong potentials for growth.
“These companies are mostly under the DTI’s One-Town-One-Product (OTOP) program and are generating employment opportunities in the rural areas and spur other downstream industries in the countryside since many of them buy their raw materials from local farmers and fisherfolks,” she said.
“The participation of these SMEs in the GEM H-CAP program underpins our strategy of pursuing inclusive wealth creation and dynamic growth, is one of the strategies identified under the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework,” she explained.
Recently completed and still being subjected to further Mindanao stakeholders validation, the Mindanao 2020 Framework is hoped to present and provide the platform for strategic and focused government initiatives as well as targeted public and private investments to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao over next 20 years.
Among the USAID officials who attended that GEM H-CAP event in Cagayan de Oro include Gregory Beck, USAID-Washington Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia; Gloria Steele, USAID-Philippines Mission Director; Danie Miller, Deputy Chief, Office of Economic Development and Governance; and Robert Barnes, USAID Philippines Economic Growth Advisor. (PNA)