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The COMESA Business Council (CBC) Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project (LSP-Project)

The Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project (LSP) is an initiative and ongoing project by the COMESA Business Council (CBC) designed to build capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in the COMESA region. The Project focuses on SME’s and supplier training in the important aspects of compliance to food safety and quality standards in the agro-sector. It also provides a platform where food business operators and SME’s can market themselves.  Beneficiaries receive market information and most importantly an opportunity to link and form partnerships as suppliers with national and international retailers and hotels. 


PhytoSolutions Consultancy was contracted as regional trainer and developed a tailor-made food safety training program that benefited more than 480 SME’s.  The project was developed in response to the need to establish a strong strategic action that will respond to the low local SME sourcing by corporate companies in the COMESA region based on recommendations from the SME and Manufacturers Workgroups.  

The PhytoSolutions food safety and quality management expert conducted the training programme and coordinated country based workshops and training sessions over a period of nine months in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia in 2016. A National Business Consultant was trained by the PhytoSolutions regional trainer in each beneficiary country to provide after training support for the duration of the project.   

SME’s in the food supply business sector were trained to implement the key food management systems demanded by the regional and international hotel and food retail industry. Key principles of food safety auditing were also demonstrated in practical exercises and field visits.

The project addresses the following challenges that hamper SME growth and sustainability in intra-regional trade;

a) SMEs do not meet the international standards requirements,

b) Inconsistent supply from local SMEs,

c) Limited credible information on local suppliers,

d) Local sourcing partnerships are viewed as a difficult and unstable process.       

Specific objectives of the project:

    To train and equip food suppliers in two selected sectors on food safety and quality management standards [Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) compliance]; To facilitate competitive relationships between buyers and suppliers into the purchasing systems of a target of 10 corporate companies within the six countries; Increased participation of local food suppliers in the supply chain networks of Multi-National Companies in Africa.  To develop a business linkages portal for distributers and suppliers for a COMESA local sourcing recognition certificate received by companies and customers.

By the end of the project the trained agro-food suppliers would meet the standards required for them to integrate into the purchasing systems of the Multi-National Companies in the region, and will establish sustainable partnerships with buying companies who are partners to the project.

The Following countries and companies were visited and participated in the 2016 LSP-project:

MALAWI: The Protea Hotel Ryalls, in Blantyre, Malawi was used as conference and training center. A guided visit to the kitchen and premises of the Protea Hotel Ryalls formed part of the practical experience. Trainees were exposed to the Hotel’s food safety management system and had a mock evaluation of the facility as part of the practical for Prerequisite Program and other food safety measures.

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This photo was taken in the freezer of the Protea hotel during a practical training session.  Regional Trainer Ms Hanlie Wessels of PhytoSolutions and one of the participants Mr.Yobe.

ZAMBIA: The Taj Pamodzi  hotel in Lusaka, Zambia was used as conference and training venue.  The food preparation area and kitchen of Taj Pamodzi was also used as a practical example of applied HACCP-principles. Roseblooms Farm was visited where a practical assessment was done on the farm’s food safety management system. Trainees also visited a Pick 'n Pay retail outlet to observe the quality and presentation of the fresh produce and the retailer’s quality and food safety management system. Pick 'n Pay was the first South African retailer to open shop in Zambia.

Surge Enterprise Limited, a producer of meat sausages, was visited as part of a field visit for practical assessments. Meat and meat products is a high-risk product for food borne illnesses. Attention to good hygienic design and construction, appropriate location and the provision of adequate facilities is necessary for effective hazard control. Surge Enterprise Limited was in the process of building a new food premises with a corrugated iron roof instead of a grass roof after the intervention of the first training of the LSP Local Sourcing for partnership programme.

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This photo was taken during training at Surge Enterprise Limited

UGANDA: In Kampala, Uganda the conference and training took place at the Serena Hotel.   The expo of SME’s produce after the training showcased many high quality and branded produce

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This photo was taken at the expo of the SME’s food business operations and produce   at the Serena Hotel

RWANDA: The Hotel Villa Portofino was used as training venue in Kigali, Rwanda. A field visit was arranged to the Masaka dairy farm that produces drinking yoghurt. The farm’s food safety management system was observed. A checklist was then completed by participants to check for compliance to Pre-Requisite Programs and other food safety measures. Emphasis was placed on strict adherence to principles of food and environmental hygiene, not to mention maintenance and sanitation. This food business was HACCP certified.


 This photo was taken at Masaka Dairy Farm during the SME training in 2016

ETHIOPIA: In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the training and conference took place at the Intercontinental Hotel

A field tour with 66 SME food suppliers to FAFFA Foods Share Company formed part of the Ethiopian curriculum. It is the oldest food processing company in Ethiopia and with a product range that include Source Product Maize, soya, wheat, sesame seeds,  supplementary infant foods, corn and soya Blend relief foods, and cereals.

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This Photo was taken at FAFFA Food Share Company during a practical training session in Ethiopia.

KENYA: The conference and training took place at the Serova Hotel Panafric, in Nairobi Kenya.

The practical training sessions are designed to allow trainees to practice what they have learned in theory regarding the CODEX Prerequisite Programs and HACCP systems so that they will be able to implement and apply the theory of the curriculum developed by PhytoSolutions into their own food businesses.

During the practical the Kandia Group, producers and exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables, was visited. The company exports French beans, snow peas, avocadoes and passion fruit are being exported to the UK and Zurich.

This photo of food handlers was taken at Kandia Group - Producers and Exporters of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables.

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