Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) is set to ban the importation of palm oil from the DR Congo, citing the use of poor transportation and packing materials.
The national standards body that is tasked with protection of consumers says that the product’s transportation and handling does not comply with Rwanda’s edible oil standards.
According to the Director General of RBS, Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, the decision will be taken after three months following notification to local dealers involved in the business.
“We cannot take the decision to stop transportation of palm oil, but we agreed on three months for improvement; and upon failure to meet the deadline strong measures will be taken,” he said.
RBS requires importers of palm oil to have the product well packed and stored as per standard requirements based on recommended international codes of practice for the storage and transport of edible fats and oils in bulk.
“Palm oil should be labeled as per the standard requirements of labeling and importers should avail certificates of analysis for palm oil on regular basis” the code of practice reads.
It was also detected that palm oil consignments passing through border points do not have the certificate of analysis among other documents; and containers used to pack the palm oil are not sealed.
This was noted during inspection by Bagabe and technical personnel from RBSS aimed at determining whether the consignments were packed inaccordance with current regulations. Bagabe officiated in a survey of the Nyabugogo palm oil depots where he described the situation as unhygienic and harmful.
Article 3 of the Rwanda Bureau of Standards Regulation No. 01/2004 states that no food product is allowed to enter Rwandan market unless it still has a minimum of 2/3 of its shelf life. This cannot be verified on palm oil because there is no labeling on palm oil packages.
Palm oil worth Rwf500 per Kilo is mainly consumed by the rural community as cooking oil and an Institute of Scientific Research for its bio-diesel product. About 60 tonnes of palm oil enter the country through Gatuna border post.
Rhoda Niwemufasha, the owner of a palm oil depot in Nyabugogo suggested that RBS should provide samples illustrating how the product should be packed.
“We need samples showing how the product should be packed. The samples can be sent to our suppliers in the DRC, but we need time to do this,” she suggested.