The process of revising standards for nine staple foods in the region will be completed and gazetted by October, standards bodies and experts from the five East African Community member states said.
It was announced Tuesday during a regional meeting aimed at gathering public views on standards on the newly proposed standards.
The move is aimed to promote structured trading systems of the selected foods to ensure consumer safety.
The five-day meeting is hosted by Rwanda Standards Board and was convened by EAC Secretariat with support from East Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and other partners.
According to Antoine Mukunzi, the national quality testing division manager at Rwanda Standard Board, “the revision is based on gathered comments and positions from each EAC member state and will lead to a harmonised position on the standards for maize, dry beans, wheat, rice, dry soybeans, maize flour, wheat flour, millet flour and sorghum flour.”
He said that harmonising the standards was timely because, initially, they had relied just on international standards which at times were not applicable in the local context.
“This will help us come up with standards that are fair to everyone, both for producers and the consumers,” he said.
Willy Musinguzi, the standards principal at EAC Secretariat, said there is need for urgent development of the standards but all stakeholders must be consulted in the process.
“Informal trade must also be considered because we are having problems related to grains and cereals trade because of lack of standards,” he said.
Gerald Makau Masila, the executive director of Eastern Africa Grain Council, said more training must be enhanced on post-harvest handling.
He said that after experts conducted a Gap Analysis Study on standards to be revised, subsequent consultations for public inputs were also carried out in all countries with key players assessing the capacity of grain laboratories to implement the standards.
“Therefore, after identifying a number of gaps in the standards, we came up with measures by identifying priority standards to begin with. After revising nine of 22 proposed standards, we will start revising the rest,” Masila said.
The Kigali meeting will incorporate public comments from different experts and the private sector into the draft standards before coming up with a common position and subsequent rules.