Key grain stakeholders in Burundi are now well informed of the nine revised East African Community (EAC) standards for cereals and pulses and two new standards on sampling and test methods, which will improve the flow of intra-regional trade in grains. On April 10, the USAID Hub and the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) conducted an introduction event in Bujumbura, Burundi to build awareness of the gazetted standards among stakeholders, highlight their importance in intra-regional food trade, food security, food quality and food safety and provide a platform to facilitate discussion on the roadmap to domesticate and implement the standards in Burundi.
The EAGC has been working with the EAC Secretariat, with support from the USAID Hub, to revise the nine standards and develop the two new standards. The EAC Council of Ministers approved the standards in November 2017 and subsequently gazetted them under EAC Legal Notice Number EAC/149/2017, dated December 7, 2017.
“Grain quality inconsistencies among EAC countries have been a major constraint on formal regional trade since standards are the language of trade,” said Yohannes Assefa, Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID Hub. The lack of harmonized standards had increased transaction costs for cross-border trade and caused delays in border clearing. With the newly gazetted standards, however, it is expected that the flow of quality grain commodities from surplus to deficit regions will improve, which will, in turn, boost the EAC’s economic growth, resilience and integration.
The Burundi National Bureau of Statistics emphasized its plan to enforce compliance with the harmonised standards by tightening checks on grain quality parameters at border check points.
Burundi was the third stop for the USAID Hub and EAGC awareness-raising events. The partnership held similar workshops on the revised standards in Kenya in December 2017 and Uganda in February 2018 and will continue to hold similar forums in all five EAC Partner States. Mr. Gerald Masila, Managing Director at EAGC, explained, “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.”