The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) has started the process of harmonising standards of maize grain, a move meant to resolve the dispute between Uganda and Kenya.
According to Comesa sanitary and phytosanitary expert Martha Byanyima, Uganda and Kenya have had a problem of standards of maize grain with Kenya at times rejecting the Ugandan produce or subjecting it to double testing to ensure conformity.
In the process, traders incur extra costs and encounter delays to deliver their products because of the variation in standards of the maize grains in the East African Community (EAC).
Speaking at a workshop in Kampala organised by Comesa in partnership with Uganda National Bureau of Standards to discuss how to end the problem between the two countries, Ms Byanyima said the problem came as a result of misinterpretation of the set standards of the grain. “We have a lot of barriers in the EAC, and the industry has been reporting to us that grain from Uganda to Kenya is declassified and brought to a lower grade that attracts lower prices. The traders also say the environment is so unpredictable and very subjective to things they don’t know,” Byanyima said.
Despite the fact that the two countries are under one regional trade bloc and grow the same plant, Kenya classifies its maize grain differently from that of Uganda.
UNBS’ role. In The deputy executive director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) Patricia Ejalu said the bureau is providing facilities for Comesa to carry out testing.
“We have accredited laboratories which will be used by Comesa to test. Uganda is now providing the facilities where they are going to train the different laboratory representatives from different countries,” she said.