The quality of banana wines could soon improve significantly, thanks to the new push by the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) to improve quality in the industry.
Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, the RSB director general, said the move will also help boost the competitiveness of the sector and protect the public from consuming unsafe products.
“Our main target is those in banana wine industry, as well as other locally-produced beverage makers to ensure they follow quality guidelines to make the sector more competitive.
“Besides, producers of any product must adhere to quality standards as part of the measures to safeguard public health,” Bagabe said.
“We will also train the small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the sector, besides involving them in the standardisation process.”
Bagabe also revealed that RSB will support SMEs in the banana wine-making industry so that they are able to improve production processes to qualify for accreditation and certification.
“We want banana wine producers to embrace standards so that they can become more competitive in local and regional markets,” Bagabe said.
Last year, RSB closed down a number of banana wine making plants whose production processes did not meet standards.
Antoine Mukunzi, the RSB testing laboratories chief, said the standards body will continue to work and share information with sector stakeholders to ensure total compliancy with standards,” he said.
He noted that the standards watchdog has invested heavily in skills development, research and technology to help producers achieve the desired standards.
Experts say the production and consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages has increased significantly in Rwanda.
However, these beverages could affect the health of consumers if the raw materials used, production processes and packaging do not meet standards.
RSB has developed a number of standards over the years, including RS4, for neutral spirits and RS104 for fruit wines. It is developing more standards, especially for wines, to boost quality and safeguard public safety.
Stakeholders welcome initiative
Simon Peter Ebitu, the production manager at Speranza Breweries, said involving stakeholders in the standardisation process is cost-effective for both the standards body and industry players.
“It is cost-effective in the sense that factories won’t be closed down for contravening standards since they will be part of the whole process,” he argued.
Last year, RSB micro-biology research unit received $1 million from The Netherlands to boost its capacity building, and undertake collaborative micro-biology research in the next three years.