THE Ministry Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has hailed MA-GEORGE Fresh Spring Water, for being named the Best Producer of Bottled Water from Lesotho in neighbouring South Africa.
Ma-George Fresh Spring Water was given the award by the Global Business Federation South Africa.
The ministry noted that it was proud with the company’s achievement which comes despite the fact that Lesotho does not yet have a standards regulating authority.
Addressing a recent press briefing to celebrate the company’s achievement, the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Small Business Development, Lerata Pekane, said they were proud of the company’s achievement.
He said the ministry’s mandate includes facilitating the establishment, operation and growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and co-operatives with a view of contributing towards employment creation, economic growth and poverty reduction.
“For the ministry, this is a big achievement and we still plead to Basotho to produce, buy and wear local for the economic growth of our country,” Mr Pekane said.
He said the ministry is also persuading government departments and the rest of the nation to increase their support for Lesotho products including bottled water.
“The honourable Minister Chalane Phori used to say Li standards litla re fumana pele, Basotho ba tsoele pele ka likhoebo (loosely translated as we should not be held back from engaging in production due to lack of standards).
“This was after Basotho indicated that most of their products are not at international standards as there is no Bureau of Standards in Lesotho which limits them from participating internationally in business.”
Meanwhile, the government, through the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project, is assisting the industry to standardise bottled water production in the absence of a functional standards body.
As a result, the government has resolved to follow a similar approach to the one used in the fruit production industry where an international standard (Global GAP) has been adopted to certify local production of fruits. In the case of water bottling, the South African National Standard (SANS) is to be used to certify locally bottled water.
As part of the processes leading to certification, a consultant trained water bottlers on how to manage their production as per standard practice in September and October last year.
Among other things, the bottlers were introduced to technical modules such as quality management, hazard analysis and physical control and ground water management.
The next step is the development of a gap analysis report which will analyse each producer’s current production systems in comparison with the prescribed standard to determine areas for improvement. This is to be followed by an inspection audit of physical productions systems before certification can take place.
The Water Bottling Federation of Lesotho has also applauded Ma- George’s achievement, which is one of its affiliates.
“This is something we applaud because it is encouraging to see that what we are doing is being recognised,” chairperson of the federation Ntsie Maphathe told the Business Journal.