Nepali lab certified to test farm products
KATHMANDU, SEP 24 -
The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) has received international accreditation for its newly built laboratory from the National Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), an Indian accrediting agency.
The accreditation is expected to facilitate exports of foodstuff as the lab’s report will be recognized by foreign countries. Non-recognition of certificates issued by Nepali labs has been one of the biggest obstacles to the export of the country’s farm products.
Foreign countries have been blocking entry of Nepali goods claiming that they are of inferior quality, and exporters have been forced to get the quality of their products attested by Indian labs which delays exports.
“The accreditation will reduce costs and save time for exporters thereby improving their competitiveness in the international market,” said DFTQC director general Jeevan Prabha Lama.
According to her, the accreditation has allowed the department to certify 25 different parameters of food items including protein, micro-level fatty acid, dietary fibres, vitamins and mineral contains.
“However, we are unable to grant certification on microbes and micro fibres,” she added. The accreditation given to the DFTQC is valid for two years.
The DFTQC’s laboratory was upgraded with financial support from the European Union and technical assistance from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). After the lab was improved, the department applied to the NABL about one and a half years ago for its certification.
The DFTQC’s laboratory is the first in the public sector to obtain accreditation. Zest Laboratory, a private sector firm, has been certified by the NABL to test chemicals. Another government entity, the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, is in the process of receiving accreditation.
According to the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2010, Nepal lost around Rs 1.6 billion worth of business in 2004 as its ginger could not be exported to India for quarantine and trade policy reasons.
Similarly, the country missed Rs 100 million worth of lentil exports in fiscal 2003-04 as India banned entry citing inadequate quality tests.
Likewise, the European Union in fiscal 2002-03 refused entry to Nepali honey citing use of pesticides resulting in a loss of Rs 76 million to exporters.
Certification from the newly accredited lab is expected to minimise such non-tariff barriers on trade.
Similarly, the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy has suggested establishing more such labs to boost the country’s exports. “However, traders have to comply with the requirements of particular countries to which they are exporting their products,” said Lama.
Posted on: 2012-09-24 08:33