Uganda National Bureau of Standards opens new food safety lab in Northern Region

UGANDA – As part of its decentralization initiatives, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has opened a food safety testing laboratory for the Northern Region based in Gulu.

The Minister of State for Industry, David Bahati, hailed the bureau’s initiative of decentralizing its services to the regional offices saying it will back the government’s industrialization agenda.

He noted that the government programmes such as the Parish Development Model (PDM) which is expected to stimulate production and value addition, will require UNBS services of providing quality assurance to enable such products access both the domestic and export markets.

The equipment for the laboratory was donated by the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) funded by the Danish government.

According to UNBS, this laboratory equipment is worth US$ 988,470 while Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) through the Danish Government has so far provided laboratory equipment worth US$ 4,455,283 to the bureau.

Earlier in March, TMEA boosted UNBS’ regional offices in Mbarara, Gulu and Mbale with equipment worth USD 1,885,280.

“Denmark is passionate about promoting private sector development in Uganda and the decentralization of testing services will promote a conducive business environment, ensure improved quality of products and contribute to efficiency in UNBS’ service delivery,” H. E Nicolaj A. Hejberg Petersen had said during the launch of the equipment.

As stated by David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director at UNBS, the bureau has plans of opening similar testing laboratories for the Eastern region based in Mbale and for the Western Region based in Mbarara in the near future.

He noted that shifting the testing laboratories closer to the majority of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) based in the countryside, would cut the cost of doing business since enterprises which used to seek testing services from UNBS central laboratories in Kampala will now get them at regional offices.

The regional food safety laboratories will afford conformity assessment services to enterprises and industries involved in processing and value addition, to ensure that their products meet the minimum quality standards before being put on the market.

The laboratories will be testing both food and non-food products such as edible fats and oils, milk and milk products, water, fruits and vegetables, cereals and cereal products, grains and animal products, among others.

Last year, UNBS commenced mobile laboratory testing for selected products in a bid to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’ (MSMEs’) COVID-19 recovery and resilience.

The development followed a boost of the UNBS Laboratory testing equipment  by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda(PSFU) under the PSFU/MasterCard Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme Project.

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