East African countries have harmonised staple foods standards, a move expected to boost intra-regional trade in quality cereals.
The standards will affect cereals such as maize, millet, wheat, sorghum, rice and pulses such as beans and peas.
The revised standards are expected to become legally binding in all states four months after publication in the gazette.
This means there would be fewer rejections and much more access to markets.
Speaking to the media at the launch of the nine standards for staple foods by East Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in Kampala, Gerald Masila, executive director EAGC, said, “Lack of harmonised regional standards has for a long time barred trade as each East African country has been using its standards.”
“We have lost out on a market position. I do not have a number right now,”Masila said.
Samwel Rutto the regional manager-Structured Trading Systems at EAGC, said, “We have the general quality specifications which look at the hygiene of the grains. Then we have the specific parameters where we have moisture issues, foreign matter, diseased or broken grains.”
Exporters and millers of cereals have been urged to certify their produce as voluntary certification is set to cease.
According to EAGC, cereals such as maize continue facing rejection not only because of discoloration of grains but also high aflatoxin levels that are harmful to consumers.
Consequently, Mr Masila said most of the region’s trade in grains has remained informal, with traders selling small quantities of untested grains across borders.
“This increased the cost of doing trade and made the produce expensive to the farmers and consumers because of the way the system works,” he said.
Due to these frustrations, EAC member states agreed to a quality framework which sets out standards for the entire region. EAC gazetted the standards last year in December.