Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda National Bureau of Standards has released standards for the maize industry targeting millers and parkers, and warned processors who have no certification to cease operations.
Uganda produces an estimated 2.5 million tons of maize, with exports worth between USD 120 and 150 million annually, mainly from the regional market. This makes maize the biggest food crop Uganda produces in terms of value, both for the local and export markets.
But in recent years, exports have faced challenges due to standards. These include the presence of moths, weevils and the poisonous aflatoxin, some of the reasons usually used by export markets like Kenya to restrict Ugandan exports. unregulated farming, post-harvest handling as well as processing has also been a major hindrance.
Now, the UNBS Manager Surveillance, Daniel Arowa, says all millers must abide by the UNBS quality regulations, including acquiring the UNBS Q-mark before their products is put in the market.
The problem is now whether the millers, most of whom are small and medium enterprises will be able to install all that is required to meet the standards. They say the standards are too high and that many of them need help like buying equipment since many of them have been in the business for long, ‘doing things according to their ability’.
One miller Joseph Kalyabe says that most of them have been using crude methods and migrating to what the UNBS is demanding will not be easy. He fears that many of them might have to close if the government starts to implement these developments.
The UNBS advised them to pool their resources and buy some equipment in groups, which will even make them be able to compete with the large millers. They add that there will still be some millers who will not abide by the standards and they will outcompete the compliant ones through setting lower prices, since they do not invest much.
Ronald Ahimbisibwe, a Certification Officer at UNBS told a meeting of processors and other stakeholders, that they have already prepared enforcement personnel to ensure that only compliant traders and processors are on the market.
UNBS has so far developed more than 3000 standards to regulate both imports and locally made products to ensure safety for the consumers and the general public, but also to ensure that best quality products are offered on the export market.