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UNBS develops 110 new standards for food and agricultural sector

In a move aimed at promoting the quality, safety and competitiveness of agricultural commodities on the Ugandan market, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has developed over 110 new standards for products in the food and agricultural sector. 

The Executive Director of UNBS, Eng. Dr. Ben Manyindo, made the revelation while presenting the 2019/20 UNBS annual performance report at Uganda Media Centre recently, saying: 

"Standards and conformity assessments improve efficiency of production, facilitate international trade and contribute towards Uganda's economic development, food security and the livelihood of the people.”

Manyindo urged those involved in the trade of food and agricultural produce to familiarise themselves with the standards in order to avoid falling afoul of the law.

“UNBS will have the standards enforced with no body having any excuse for pleading ignorance,” he warned. 

The Standards boss revealed that the Bureau developed 505 standards last financial year, of which 110 are in the food and agricultural sector, bringing the total number of standards in use in the country today to 3948. 

In other areas, 125 standards were developed for engineering, 148 in chemicals and consumer products and 122 for management and services. Manyindo stated that the newly developed standards will support key sectors and catalyse Uganda's economic growth. 

To boost comprehension and implementation of the standards, the bureau has moved on to simplify select food and agricultural standards into easy-to-use guidelines, translated into widely spoken local languages, a move that has benefitted over 600 farmers in the country so far. 

The UNBS report also noted an 11% improvement in its market surveillance and inspection performance from 6,648 done the previous year to 7,345 inspections conducted last financial year, covering 56% of the entire country. 

The surveillance effort unearthed some areas of concern with regard to sub-standard goods and non-compliance with standards requirements. 

"The prevalence of sub-standards goods on the market is still a challenge especially from the informal business, thus calling for more efforts in consumer vigilance, market information sharing, partnership at local governments and consumer awareness," Manyindo commented. 

From import inspection and surveillance in 2019/20, Manyindo said that UNBS intercepted and destroyed a total of 232 metric tonnes of sub-standard goods, worth over Shs 2.5bn. Although the Executive Director said UNBS is moving to tighten inspection at border points and decentralize services to different districts, he notes that there is a staff gap as they currently have over 1,400 workers out of an expected 6,000. 

Manyindo also says that out of a total of Shs 68.9bn approved, government released only Shs 59.7bn as budget for financial year 2019/2020 out of which the bureau generated and remitted Non Tax Revenue of Shs 38.2bn to the consolidated fund. 

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