UGANDA – Maize millers and other players along the value chain in Uganda have expressed commitment to comply with the mandatory standards of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
The millers in Lango Sub-region made the pledge during a dialogue with UNBS officials at Lira City Council Hall. This comes after more than 25 maize milling plants in Lira City and Apac Town were closed in the previous week for operating in unhygienic conditions and without certification.
“Since we want to be part of the development of this country, we would like to be helped so that we can grow to the standards,” said Mr. Emmanuel Akeny, Chairperson of Lango Millers Association.
He however appealed to UNBS to allow them a grace period of two years to fully comply with the mandatory standards.
Ms. Sylvia Kirabo, the UNBS head of public relations and marketing, said the dialogue was a milestone for both producers and consumers.
“People have requested for training on site about standards and as UNBS we commit ourselves to do that. We shall continue to train our people and take them through the required processes but also many of them have embarked on registration on the UNBS certification system,” she said in a separate interview.
She also disclosed that UNBS would reopen the milling plants in the coming week subject to the millers commitment to “close the gaps”. Lira City Mayor, Sam Atul, said he had several engagements with the affected millers and tasked them to comply with the requirements for the safety of their businesses and the population.
Mr. Lawrence Egole, the Lira Resident City Commissioner, urged the millers to adhere to UNBS standards, saying selling substandard products to the population would cause health issues.
The standards regulator has been sensitizing and building capacity of maize millers, processors and dealers in different parts of the country over the last one year to ensure that they obtain UNBS Certification (Q-Mark) before placing their products on the market.
It had earlier issued an ultimatum of June 30th this year for maize millers and maize flour traders to secure standard certification for their products failure to which they would face closure. Nevertheless, it extended the compliance deadline and only initiated a crackdown initiative at the start of November 2021. The initial crackdown resulted in the closure of 25 maize mills in Luweero district and 24 others in Jinja district.
UNBS requires the millers to comply with mandatory standards like US EAS 2:2017, Maize grains — Specification (2nd Edition), US EAS 44:2019, Milled maize (corn) products — Specification (4th Edition) and US EAS 782:2019 Composite flour – Specification.
In addition, they should keep premises clean, handle raw materials properly, and ensure skilled staff handle the maize products. Retailers should ensure that products embody the UNBS quality mark and contain details of the manufacturer, contact numbers and physical address.