Eastern Africa Grain Council Uganda launches nine new standards for staple foods in the region
The Eastern Africa Grain Council, has launched the nine product standards for staple foods and two standards for sampling and test methods.
The gazetted revised Standards are expected to become legally binding in all partner States four months after publication in the gazette.
The recent gazettement of the grain standards is expected to increase grain trade between Uganda and the East Africa region by reducing standards related Technical barriers, which had previously hampered such trade.
“The EAC has been implementing the EAC Customs Union since 1st July 2005.” Indicated the Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of EAC Integration. This she said was an effort “To eliminate internal Tariffs on goods produced within our territories in order to promote intra EAC Trade, adopt a common tax policy on third party goods and eliminate all non-tariff barriers to trade.”
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, his deputy Mrs Patricia Ejalu emphasised on the Bureau’s plan to enforce compliance to the harmonised standards by tightening checks on grain quality parameters at the border check points to ensure that consumers feed on safe food.
Uganda will therefore be a key beneficiary of the harmonized standards, as the country remains one of the key exporters of maize and sorghum in the region. Speaking at the forum, the EAGC Executive Director, Mr. Gerald Masila averred that , “smooth adoption and application of the gazetted standards would see farmers accessing better and greater markets within the Region estimated at a population of 186,998,614 while consumers will be provided with safe and high quality food grain products.”
In his opening remarks, Yohannes Assefa the Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID-East Africa Trade and Investment Hub said that:” The Hub as regional body has been supporting the development and implementation of grain standards for staple foods.”
He added that the USAID has bilateral partners at the National Level who are mandated to build the capacity of grain famers enhance productivity and the utilization of quality agricultural inputs such as seeds for the production of safe food for trade.
‘EAGC plans to undertake capacity building and awareness forums in each country and to work with the EAC and National Bureaus of Standards to develop National standards implementation roadmaps as we call upon the EAC partner states to move with speed to ensure effective implementation” Lauded Mr Masila. “A scorecard approach and a regular market surveillance will be much needed as the next step as a mechanism to track overall implementation of the standards,” he added. The scorecard will ensure that the number of standards harmonized is not counted as a direct measure of success without looking at the impact on Regional grain trade opportunities, costs, or sector competitiveness. Mr. Masila further added that ‘’the EAGC’s Regional Grain Trading system, which is a web, based /electronic system known as G-SOKO will also promote the adoption of the revised EAC standards through the certified warehouses which have a role of bulking grains that conform with the quality parameters”.
Representing the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr Stanley Ahimbisibwe lauded that “the Uganda any other Eastern Africa Countries cannot increase productivity and be globally competitive without proper implementation of standards.”
The EAGC Executive Director appreciated the various partners and stakeholders who were involved in the harmonization and review of the grain standards led by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat.