By Patricia Osman
Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) is calling for a streamlined system at all Uganda border points to check the quality of all goods being imported and those exported.
The Executive Director SEATINI, a non governmental organisation that works on trade,fiscal and development related issues in the EAC region and the African continent at large, Jane Naluga says that the recent ban on Uganda maize in Kenya was mainly due to standards, an issue that has been under looked for a long time adding that the maize should have been checked on the side of Uganda before heading out.
Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi (molds) that are found naturally and can contaminate food crops but also pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock. Food crops can become contaminated both before and after harvesting
Kenya shook the region when it banned maize from Uganda and Tanzania due to aflatoxins, however after days of meetings and consultations the ban was lifted with tough guidelines to be followed by stakeholders. One must have a certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels of each consignment imported with clear details of where the maize was stored and that all parties dealing in maize imports would have to be registered among others requirements.
“Even though Kenya lifted the ban that shouldn’t stop us from addressing the issue of standards and I think we should take this seriously we need to ensure that not only our maize but all our products are produced to the required standard,” says Naluga.
She adds that this can only be done if the government fully financially supports the standards body The Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Ministry of trade and that of agriculture to work closely to ensure that standards are adhered to right from the inputs to the consumer.
Naluga admits that yes Uganda could have come on the spot recently for importing bad maize to Kenya but so many fake and substandard goods are on the Ugandan market today, and wonders what the government is doing about it.