"There are, for instance, currently there are more than 944 standards governing Food and agricultural products but the majority of the Ugandan population do not know about them” lamented Moses Matovu, a standard regulation officer at the Uganda National Bureau of Standards during a roundtable discussion on the role of standards in facilitating access of Ugandan agricultural products in lucrative markets.
First things first! What are agricultural standards? These are approved rules, established by consensus, which provide guidance for how to treat our agricultural goods. They set the bar of minimum standards for harvesting, processing and transporting the Products to ensure a quality product.
By living up to national standards, we are protecting humans, animals and the environment. Apart from national standards, there are also international standards which help producers to compete with international products: “We have to look at our production environment. We have to understand what other countries want and make sure that we meet their requirements. For example Rwanda and Kenya harvest tea differently than Uganda. Their products are of better quality. So in order to compete, we have to meet their standards.” stressed John Bosco, a trade information executive.
To make sure that all agricultural products live up to the standards and support the above explained advantages, a new directive was adopted this year. This regulation requires that all agricultural producers register and mark their products with a quality mark by 2019, which can be achieved in a certification process. This quality mark ensures that the manufactures followed the necessary quality standards.
But the biggest obstacle on the way towards a completely standardized Ugandan agriculture is the enforcement of the standards. “We need to find incentives for self-regulation. The standards are there, but the enforcement of the regulations is extremely problematic”, Bosco said. Because of this, UNBS, the Ministry for Agriculture and the Local Governments have to work together to raise awareness and reach all the producers within and outside of Kampala, in order to put the importance of standards for agricultural products into the center of attention.