The Millennium Leadership Forum (MLF) is a subsidiary of the Millennium Excellence Foundation. MLF is built on the belief that other than acknowledging excellence, efforts must be put into growing excellence. The Forum therefore focuses on the agricultural sector, specifically compliance.
With increasing commodity prices, demanding retailers and low consumer confidence, the agro processing industry is under enormous pressure to re-evaluate operational priorities and decide where processes can be streamlined to save cost and time with no risk to product quality. There has therefore never been a more critical time for improvements in production systems and reductions in cost to stay ahead of the competition.
Many developing countries are ill equipped to take advantage of the opportunities provided by trade. Weak infrastructure, lack of capacity and the inability to meet technical product specifications as well as stringent requirements in terms of quality, safety, health and the environment impede their integration into global markets and even within their own countries.
Compliance therefore needs to be enhanced with technical standards to heighten consumer confidence in order to gain access to regional and global value chains, especially transnational corporations. In the rules-based trading system, the agro-food sector provides immediate opportunities, as many developing countries have good climatic conditions, available arable land and a sufficient pool of labor to expand agricultural production.
Recent health concerns arising from bovine diseases, bird flu and various toxins entering the food chain have led to stringent standards and conformity procedures, particularly in the area of agro-food exports.
Exporting countries must acquire the capability to conform to requirements in terms of quality, safety, health and the environment if they are to participate fully in global markets.
The technical regulations and standards applied in developing countries, including packaging, marking and labeling requirements, are often incompatible with international standards. Laboratory capacity to test and certify goods for developed markets is also patchy. Steps taken to nurture a quality culture will build client and consumer confidence, not only in international markets, but also in domestic markets.
Compliance Infrastructure will broadly include the following: national standards institute; microbiology and chemical testing laboratories; national metrology institute; and national accreditation certification capacity to certify enterprises for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 22000 and to train internal auditors.
The maiden Agro Processing Compliance World Forum was hosted in London in March 2014