AGRO processing and manufacturing remained top priorities for government because of the potential to create jobs and income opportunities in addition to boosting non-agricultural activities as well as raising the standard of living for the people.
In essence, sustainable packaging solutions are also needed to reduce food waste, scale up trade and propel the growth of the sector.
It is important to note that food losses and waste are an enormous drain on natural resources. Roughly, one-third of the annual food produced globally for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted. These losses are particularly unfortunate in Africa where approximately 20 percent of the population is undernourished.
Appropriate packaging has a significant impact on improving food quality and safety – thereby reducing food losses whilst enhancing the competitiveness of Namibia’s agro-enterprises and boosting trade. Furthermore, packaging plays a key role in improving the marketing of produce and is an important part of a strategy to enhance competitiveness of small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs).
Better packaging, traceability and labelling is necessary to enhance the quality and safety of products and this is vital because new entrepreneurs want to grow businesses that are both profitable and sustainable. This alone will reflect the aspirations of their customers in Namibia as well as buyers throughout the world.
Among the significant bottlenecks associated with packaging, the Namibian firms and packaging experts have noted the lack and high cost of packaging equipments and materials.
Furthermore, the high maintenance and servicing costs, absence of advice to source inputs among others are also key constraints in upgrading packing even at fresh produce Hubs around the country. These challenges were hindering the value chain development and the SMAEs’ effort to generate income.
With little doubt, poor packaging is one of the key constraints facing small and medium agro-enterprises, who in aggregate manufacture the bulk of locally processed food products on the continent. Improving packaging systems will contribute to strengthening the entire food supply chain, improve the competitiveness of these enterprises and benefit all food chain actors and consumers.
Maybe it is high time the industry opt for shared service centres, quality management and branding training for small firms.
The industry should also look into shared access to relevant digital printing technologies and packaging-related market information.
To reduce the overall environmental impact of food packaging systems, Namibia should also take into account the environmental impact of the packaging material itself.
Production lines can be adapted at minimal cost to reduce waste, pollution and carbon footprint, whilst improving overall profitability and the attractiveness of your products. Namibian enterprises must lead in green packaging for Namibia to keep its uncontaminated natural environment whilst bolstering opportunities for its people.
Conclusively, there is an urgent need for facilities to test new packaging designs and information platforms to inform processors about available materials and equipments. There is also a need for advisory support services to help enterprises adapt new production and product designs to reduce costs, waste and pollution.
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