Editorial: Enhance capacity building in the dairy sector

Supermarkets around Kigali no longer stock locally-made dairy products after Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) banned sall of dairy products without a standards mark.

In a directive which affected over 60 local firms, the regulator cautioned supermarkets and other dealers in dairy products, against selling products that do not meet the required standards.

Maintaining standards is critical if the Made-in-Rwanda campaign is to be successful. RSB is right to crackdown on products that don’t bear the mark to protect consumers and also to make local products competitive.

However, beyond enforcing the law, RSB should also appreciate the fact that local producers still need a lot of support to enhance their capacity.

Therefore the standards body should do more on the front of supporting the local producers to meet the required standards.

The affected firms are willing to work toward improving quality and production processes, but are constrained by factors that can be addressed if RSB and the responsible ministry worked closely with them and supported them.

The current ban is affecting the consumers as the prices of dairy products have sky-rocketed due to shortage and some supermarkets now import some of these products like cheese.

Going forward, RSB should speed up the standards compliance process so that local products are available on the market again.

RSB should find flexible measures to ensure that local firms are not totally pushed out of the market as some of them have since closed.

Although the Ministry of Trade and Industry promised to visit the affected dairy products processors and work with RSB to offer them required technical advice and support, it should be done as a matter of urgency.

Building capacity of the nascent local manufacturing industry should be a priority. Once these firms get all the necessary support it will be easy for them to meet quality standards and boost the country’s export base.