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The European Union (EU) through the Trade Related Assistance Project (TRA) Phase 2, implemented by the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, has made this possible by extending support to Laboratories in the provinces to commence the process of attainment of international accreditation. The TRA 2 project has started a tailored training programme from 16 May to 1 June 2018 targeting selected laboratories of the following institutions; PNG University of Technology (UNITECH), Lae; University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE), Kerevat; Coconut and Cocoa Institute (KIK), Kerevat; and National Agriculture Research Institute, also at Kerevat. Under PNG University of Technology, a total of three laboratories benefit from this training: The National Food Testing and Monitoring Centre (NFTMC), the National Analytical and Testing Services Limited (NATSL) and the Unitech Analytical Services Laboratory (UASL).
The decision to extend the project to provincial laboratories is as a result of feedback received during a previous Technical Assistance intervention by the TRA team from food export stakeholders in Morobe and East New Britain provinces, who expressed a concern on the lack of accredited laboratories in their regions to analyse food exports. The stakeholders requested assistance from TRA2 for laboratory gap assessments; in-depth training on the ISO 17025 standard of laboratory personnel; mapping the laboratories’ conformance against ISO 17025 requirements and assessment of needs to attain accreditation. The programme entails preparation of food laboratories in the provinces for accreditation, through assessment of compliance to International standard ISO 17025:2005 - General requirements for competence of testing laboratories, current capabilities (competences) and needs.
Ms Sogoing Denano (centre front), Quality and Coordination Lecturer, Standards and Regulations at the NFTMC at the University of Technology (UNITECH) in Lae said: “This training is a very significant and timely assistance as the centre strives towards achieving its ISO 17025 laboratory accreditation status. The achievement of accreditation status is a massive task for any laboratory because it demands competency of all personnel involved in analysis and all documents including facility to meet the full
requirements of ISO 17025 international quality management standard”.
Ms Denano added: “The achievement of accreditation status is important for NFTMC so that it can serve as a centre to issue certificate of analysis to export commodities, mainly food, beverage and agricultural products, a service that is desperately sought after by the Food and Allied Industries, and which is the key to global food trade. And being located in the industrial hub of Papua New Guinea and in the central region of the country, the National Food Testing and Laboratory centre is in the ideal position to offer this service”.
One of the major concerns for food exporters in the provinces was unreliability of using distant laboratories situated in Port Moresby to meet quality assessment requirements in a timely manner to enable their food products into export markets. International accreditation will mean that provincial laboratories will now have the capacity to fill this gap.
Ms Denano expressed her utmost appreciation to the EU for funding and to the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry for identifying PNG University of Technology laboratories to run this important and interactive training. She added that she hoped this kind assistance would continue in the future.
The training programme commenced on 16 May up to 23 May 2018 targeting the recently established chemistry and microbiology commercial testing laboratories of the PNG University of Technology in Lae, and moves to Kerevat the following week. Under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) the EU is keen to provide the necessary capacity building to increase and diversify the range of PNG food and agricultural exports to EU countries, bringing direct benefits to local food producers.