RSB gets $1 million to boost food safety, trade

RSB technicians in the laboratory. TradeMark East Africa support in previous programmes helped build capacity of staff and stakeholders, acquisition of laboratory equipment. Emmanuel Kwizera.

Rwanda Standards Board(RSB) has received $1 million (approximately Rwf900m) to help it keep up with global best practices and offer improved services to its clients to enhance food safety and trade.

The signing of the financing agreement took place yesterday between Trademark East Africa and RSB in Kigali.

According to officials, it will benefit farmers, pack houses, millers and transporters to enable them attain international standard requirements in food safety of local agricultural products, hence enabling them to access a wide range of markets both regionally and internationally.

Rwanda Standards Board and Trade Mark East Africa sign new US $1 million deal to enhance food safety and trade. Emmanuel Kwizera

The money will also be used in interventions such as automation of RSB processes to improve service delivery and increase customer satisfaction.

It will also be used to develop a seven year strategic plan that will guide RSB in keeping up with global best practices in standards for international sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS).

“We want to ensure that we support standards and certifications to leverage the trading platforms and the improved physical and digital infrastructure,” said Patience Mutesi, TMEA Country Director.

Officials also said the emphasis was put in agriculture given that the sector accounts for 33 per cent of Rwanda’s GDP and employs 72 per cent of the working population.

Also under the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), the export sector should grow by 17 per cent annually and agriculture is one of the main players.

“As productivity increases and regional and global tariff barriers are eliminated, standards and SPS issues tend to rise in prominence, given countries’ commitment to safeguard public health, animal health and environment, we would like to ensure that RSB and the country in general are not affected by technical barriers that may arise as a result,” Mutesi added.

At least 90 enterprises including SMES will comply with ISO 22000 by 2023, while 40 others will get an additional certification in specific food chains in compliance with ISO 22000 in the same period, according to officials.

The RSB laboratory will also be upgraded and the management information system will be upgraded to improve exchange of information with stakeholders.

According to Raymond Murenzi, RSB Director General, they are committed to support the private sector comply with standards and access markets in the region and beyond.

“Internally we are keen to improve on our service delivery model and our commitment to ensuring not only consumer safety but trade facilitation,” he said.

He noted that normally, testing is done within seven days but now the time will be reduced to two days thanks to the support from Trademark East Africa.