Comesa Fronts SMEs for Local Food Supply to Hotels

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [Comesa] Business Council is implementing a food safety programme that will enable small and medium enterprises to supply local food to key hotels in the region.

The one-year pilot Global Food Safety Initiative project to link food suppliers to hotels will be implemented in partnership with the Serena hotel group, Protea, and Intercontinental hotel, Zambia.

In her keynote address during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Comesa business council and the hotels in Kampala recently, the council’s chairperson, Dr Amany Asfour, said the project would target selected suppliers whose capacity could be strengthened.

“Sourcing food and drinks locally is now an established strategy for many in the hospitality industry and the practice will continue to expand into other areas of procurement,” said Amany.

“Encouraging local procurement sourcing in food supply and other areas along the value chain greatly contributes to local job creation and sustainability of the supplier chains,” he added.

According to the memorandum, the selected hotel groups will work with the council in supporting food suppliers if they meet the standard requirements expected by the companies. The hotels will also engage trained suppliers on a trial basis under a preferential arrangement to supply a particular range of food products within the requirement and quantities expected.

“The initiative will further strengthen our partnership with the local suppliers and private sector at large, some of which we are already in partnership with,” Anthony Chege, the general manager of Serena Kampala hotel, said.

State Minister for Trade David Wakikona said the initiatives would benefit a number of SMEs that had been neglected despite having capacity.

“I urge local suppliers to take up this opportunity and be able to be part of the supply chain to the hotels,” he said.

It is expected the food safety initiative will ensure effective competition in the regional and global markets. Statistics show that intra-regional trade in Comesa has steadily risen to $20.9bn, from $3bn since the establishment of a Free Trade Area in 2000.

However, despite the increase and initiatives, trade in the regional bloc remains low. According to the 2013 status report presented to the Comesa Intergovernmental Committee in Lusaka, Zambia on December 4, 2014, intra-Comesa trade is still low partly due to the similar products that compete for the same market within the member states and the existence of non-tariff barriers.

For example in 2013, intra-Comesa trade was recorded at seven per cent as compared to other regions such as ASEAN in Asia which has recorded 25 per cent intra-regional trade.

Source : The Observer

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