The Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) is an initiative of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) launched in July 2020 to support micro and small-scale industries to progressively comply with Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure quality and safe products on the market.
The initiative contributes significantly to economic development by maintaining consumer confidence in the food system and providing sound regulatory foundations by supporting Government’s Industrialization Agenda.
The PLS coupled with the FDA’s risk-based product registration process has ensured that locally manufactured food, cosmetics, and household chemical substances reach the market faster without compromising their quality, safety, or wholesomeness.
The Scheme uses a 3-tiered approach for licensing the micro and small-scale manufacturing facilities: issuing pink, yellow, or green licenses based on the level of compliance. The targeted Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Training and technical assistance provided to clients of the PLS enables them to meet fundamental requirements of GMP.
Data from the FDA indicates that prior to the commencement of PLS in 2019 five (5) percent of micro and small-scale enterprises that applied for licensing were licensed only after meeting the full requirements. Following the implementation of PLS this performance has increased to one hundred (100) percent. As at the end of December 2022, nine hundred and fifty-two (952) facilities have been licensed under PLS: six hundred and sixty (660) food manufacturing facilities and two hundred and ninety-two (292) cosmetics and household chemical substances.
For products registered, prior to the commencement of PLS in 2019 fifty-two (52) percent of product registration applications submitted by micro and small-scale enterprises were registered. Following the implementation of the PLS this performance increased to ninety-one (91) percent. To date the total of 2,917 products have been registered under PLS: 2,405 food products and 512 cosmetics and household chemical substances.
The PLS commenced with the food industry in 2020, cosmetics and household chemical substances industry in 2021, will also include the herbal medicine industry in 2023. This move, the FDA explained is to extend the success stories of PLS to the herbal medicine industry.
The PLS compliments the FDA ‘Buy Ghana, Love Ghana’ campaign initiative which aims to stock 60 percent locally manufactured FDA regulated products in high-end supermarket chains in Ghana. With the commitment of collaborating supermarkets to stock products registered by the Authority, there has been an increase in the stocking and sale of registered locally manufactured products in A-rated malls and supermarkets across the country.
FDA’s CEO, Dr Delese Mimi Darko has emphasized the Authority’s commitment to ensure that products which are registered through the scheme meet both local and international standards. “We are determined to continuously pursue this agenda with our partners including the GEA, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, and the Ghana Standards Authority” she said.
Dr. Darko also called on local manufacturers to increase their production levels whilst maintaining high-quality standards at competitive prices in order to boost domestic demand that will drive economic growth.
Data from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) shows that Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) have significantly increased since 2017, and particularly in 2020 when the PLS was introduced. For example, NTE earnings for the period January to December 2021 amounted to US$3.33 billion, reflecting a growth of 17 percent over the 2020 earnings. The bulk of these exportable products falls within the framework of the PLS, comprising cocoa paste, refined palm olein, powdered pepper, fruit juice, processed shea, plantain snacks, and cosmetics among others.
The PLS has already absorbed part of the licensing fee of some 500-member facilities to the tune of almost GH¢1.850 million. These companies are micro or small enterprises as defined by the GEA.
The three-stage-licensing level of the PLS (i.e., Pink, Yellow and Green) focuses on small and micro-scale and cottage-scale food and cosmetics producers. The scheme relies on high-quality, transparent and independent scientific advice.
Benefits of the scheme include access to technical support and training in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), shorter processing periods, and subsidized application fees.
The success story of PLS cannot be told without mentioning FDA’s strong collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works program that provided funds for young entrepreneurs on the PLS.
FDA invites all micro and small-scale manufacturers in food, cosmetics, and household chemical substances and herbal medicine industries to join the scheme.