PRETORIA, 19 September 2018 – The Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa (the dti), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Switzerland, through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), have signed a €1.38 million project to support South Africa’s efforts to improve the international competitiveness of South African indigenous essential and vegetable oils.
An innovative programmatic approach was developed by SECO and UNIDO to address sustainably the quality and standards compliance capacity challenges in partner countries to facilitate market access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by working in emblematic value chains per country: the Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP). The GQSP foresees the development of 12 country projects over its lifetime of five years; this South Africa project, “Strengthening the quality of essential and vegetable oils exports from South Africa”, being the pioneer.
The objective of the three and half year project is to strengthen the quality and standards compliance capacity to facilitate market access for SMEs in the essential and vegetable oils value chain destined for food, health and cosmetic markets.
The project was launched at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens by the acting Deputy Director General of the dti, Dr Tebogo Makube, the Swiss Ambassador H.E. Helene Budliger Artieda, and UNIDO Representative, Khaled El Mekwad. The event brought together high-level public and private sector representatives from the South African technical quality infrastructure system, enterprises from the essential oils sector and the international development agencies.
Claudy Steyn, the dti, Chief Director: Chemicals, Cosmetics, Plastics and Pharmaceuticals, stated that “the project is very timely and complementary to the initiatives and strategies implemented by the government to develop the potential of the essential and vegetable oils sector” as the conservation of the South African biodiversity is high on the agenda.
This project will aim at building an effective and efficient quality infrastructure system that will help SMEs demonstrate the quality of their products and it will work with essential and vegetable oils SMEs to use the available quality services to produce goods and services in line with market requirements. At the same time, the project will support SMEs and institutions to instill a sense of demand for quality at individual, institutional and policy level to ensure sustainability of the quality system.
“Addressing the quality infrastructure system in a holistic manner is essential for sustainably integrating SMEs into global markets and moreover for the achievement of 2030 Development Agenda” said UNIDO's El Mekwad.
The substantive interest by the public and private sector and willingness to address the quality and standards compliance challenges faced by producers of essential and vegetable oils were evident throughout the project development process.
“The commitment from the South African Government to advance the economic competitiveness and mobilize the potential of the sector is commendable and we are proud to be a partner in this journey to achieve their goals of becoming a global player of exporting quality products, said Ambassador Artieda.
The project will encompass essential and vegetable oils that are also produced in the SADC region and elsewhere in Africa, where possible. “The work done in South Africa has the potential to raise the profile of this industry in the SADC region and in Africa as well” said Juan Pablo Davila, Industrial Development Officer, UNIDO.
The project will be implemented in close collaboration with the dti and its agencies, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and its agencies, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and its agencies, South African Essential Oil Producers Association (SAEOPA), training providers, and the South African Quality Institute (SAQI).