Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) in collaboration with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) hosted the national expert technical committee to discuss and draft the East African Standards for Cocoa and related products.
The national technical committee is supported under the European Union and East African Community Market Access Upgrade Programme (EU-EAC MARKUP).
The main objective for the EU-EAC MARKUP is to contribute to the EAC’s economic development through boosting trade and regional integration with a specific objective of improving EU and regional market access for EAC countries in selected sub-sectors such as coffee, tea, cocoa, horticulture and spices.
In Uganda, the MARKUP project priority commodities are cocoa and coffee.
“The national technical committee shall formulate working drafts of East African Standards for Cocoa and related products. The drafts shall then be presented to stakeholders for consultations to form Uganda’s position in the harmonization of cocoa and related standards at the EAC Level,” said Ms. Pamela Akwap, UNBS Senior Standards Officer.
“The reason for harmonization of standards is to promote uniformity across the EAC. This will make it easy for Uganda to trade in cocoa and related products within the EAC partner states and outside the East Africa region. In addition, the standardization will ensure that cocoa and its products are safe for consumption,” she added.
The participants discussed drafts for harmonization of standards on cocoa beans, cocoa powder and cocoa powder mixtures, cocoa butter and chocolates.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) representative at the consultative meeting, Mr. Francis Enaru, who is the Principal MSME Officer – Quality Assurance and Standardization said the committee discussed working draft standards with different stakeholders including UCDA (the EU-EAC MARKUP implementing partner in Uganda), UNBS, MTIC, manufacturers, traders, academia and consumers.
He stressed that standards are very important as they help to facilitate trade.
While addressing participants at the meeting, the UCDA Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, appreciated the committee’s contributions in harmonization of the standards in the cocoa sector.
“The development of these standards will feed into a regulatory framework for cocoa which is being developed after a Regulatory Impact Assessment was done last year,” Dr. Iyamulemye says.
Dr. Iyamulemye encouraged the participants to take the example of other producing countries and do the right thing for the cocoa sub sector. He emphasized that while it is important to have good quality cocoa, it is equally important to ensure that the right standards are in place for packaging, sealing and handling.
The UCDA MD also commended the EU-EAC MARKUP for supporting the process.
“Thanks to the EU-EAC MARKUP project we are now looking to increase market access to European markets,” Dr. Iyamulemye says.
The requirements stated in the standards are based on East African best practices and international standards which will ensure that Uganda cocoa is marketable and its products are competitive on the regional and world markets.