EAGC to launch standards for staple foods

Posted on April, 25, 2018 at 10:41 am

THE Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in partnership with the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub is today expected to launch the 9th East African Standards for Staple Foods.

The standards are aimed at increasing grain trade between Tanzania and the East African region.

According to a statement issued by EAGC, the event will be held in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

Among other issues, the launch of the standards in all EAC countries is meant to ensure a level playing field in the sector and minimize the risk of food shortage in the region by allowing easy movement of grains across states, as well as providing ready market access for farmers in the region.

“Tanzania will therefore be a key beneficiary of the harmonized standards, as the country remains one of the key exporters of maize, beans, and rice in the region,” the statement read in part.

The gazetted East African standards, which are set to be domesticated in each East African Community (EAC) Partner State in two months’ time, will be launched and handed over for implementation during the Eastern Africa Grain Council’s event which will be held Wednesday, 25th , 2018.

The EAC standards for cereals and pulses were first gazetted in 2013. This gazettement marked a critical step towards addressing key obstacles to formal structured trading systems that require consistency and standardization of products quality.

Several challenges, with regard to the application of the standards, however, were experienced soon after the adoption in 2014.

To address the stakeholder concerns, EAGC embarked on an investigation of the prevailing challenges affecting the 2013 standards’ implementation, and conducted a regional survey covering three components that included review of existing technical gaps, grain laboratories benchmarking and cross-border assessment.

A number of gaps were revealed by the EAGC survey, which included safety and quality requirements/parameters, sampling and testing methods as key constraints limiting the realization of structured grain trade within the region.

Following the gaps identified in the study, a review process was initiated, with support from the USAID Hub, which culminated in the revised harmonized 2017 EAC staple foods standards.

The nine priority product standards reviewed were maize grain, wheat grain, milled rice, dry beans, dry soybeans, maize flour, wheat flour, sorghum flour and millet flour.

Among other parameters addressed through the revision of the standards were aflatoxin, moisture content levels and discolouration of grains.

“For instance, the EAC standard for maize grain goes much further than the international CODEX Standard in setting tight quality parameters, providing for maximum limits for three categories of mycotoxin, moisture, and filth that apply to all maize grades together with specific limits on broken, pest damaged, shrivelled, discoloured, and rotten grains, and total grain defect for three grades of maize.” Indicates the statement

Grain that does not conform to the regional requirements or exceeds the limits for Grade 3 maize is described as unfit for human consumption and is technically illegal to buy or sell anywhere in the EAC except for animal feed.

EAGC, with support from the USAID Hub, has been collaborating with the EAC in the standards harmonization process for cereals, pulses, and their products since 2010, and has mobilized, committed resources, and secured grain stakeholder participation in the process.

It indicates that the gazetted revised standards are expected to become legally binding in all EAC Partner States four months after publication in the gazette.

If implemented, stakeholders believe that this will be a great effort to facilitate intra-regional grain trade by reducing standards-related to technical barriers, to grain trade that had previously hampered such trade.

“EAGC plans to undertake capacity building and awareness forums in each country and to work with the EAC and National Bureaus of Standards to develop national standards implementation roadmaps as we call upon the EAC Partner States to move with speed to ensure effective implementation,” Said Gerald Masila, the EAGC’s Executive Director.

Source: IPP Media