EAST AFRICA – Five target East African Community (EAC) countries are the focus of a comprehensive sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) legislative and technical examination being carried out by CABI in collaboration with the law firm KO and Associates (KOA). 

The goal is to aid in the development of more reliable SPS systems, which will improve crop yield and profitability and increase food security as well as access to local and global high-value markets.  

The EAC is one of the fastest-growing regional economies – with agriculture playing a major part. Nevertheless, agricultural trade between EAC member states is hampered by issues around unharmonized SPS standards.

The SPS capability evaluation sought to identify investment opportunities and recommend further interventions that can be supported within the project in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

This is courtesy of a five-year Trade of Agriculture Safely and Efficiently in East Africa (TRASE) project financed by the USDA.

TRASE is being carried out by Land O’Lakes Venture 37 (V37), with a focus on identified quarantine pests and diseases that pose emerging hazards.

The project has invested in developing capacity in Animal Health, Plant Health, and Food Safety Systems, including support laboratory services, to improve compliance with regulatory and market requirements.

Some of the constraints discovered during the assessment include duplication and overlaps in regulatory functions thus increasing the cost of trade and poor notification by Partner States when they update laws or introduce new regulatory rules as is evident by the low utilization of the tripartite web-based reporting mechanism.

There were also unclear procedural rules and timelines for administrative resolution of trade complaints, poor adoption of EAC Standards in domestic SPS controls, and poor use of Equivalence and Mutual Recognition Agreements/Arrangements (MRAs).

With help from the TRASE project, CABI was able to create a technical guide for the Huanglongbing bacteria, also known as Liberibacter asiaticus (Asian greening disease), as well as a pest warning for the EAC Partner States.

A national plan for surveillance, notification, and emergency response was also developed, and authorities, researchers, and commodity trade associations from partner states participated in training sessions on these topics. Later, the PPP framework and national plan were created.

The EAC is one of the fastest-growing regional economies – with agriculture playing a major part. Nevertheless, agricultural trade between EAC member states is hampered by issues around unharmonized SPS standards.


Plant Health Inspectors from NPPOs and the private sector horticulture apex groups have recently received training from CABI under TRASE.

Virtual training workshops

To improve regulatory compliance, virtual training seminars on the practical application of various International Plant Protection Convention and International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures were offered.  

In-person instruction and the USDA SPS course on Plant Health were used to provide the training online.

“The current interventions by the TRASE project through the capacity building and development of SOPs will enhance the technical capacity of both public and private sector players on inspection procedures, and compliance to Phytosanitary regulations.  

“Assessment conducted so far, as well as the training workshops, is seeing the project make good progress on increasing the capacity for surveillance, notifications, and emergency response to crop pests and diseases in the focus countries,” said Dr. MaryLucy Oronje, SPS Scientist at CABI’s regional centre for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants were trained on topics such as WTO SPS Agreement, selected International Phytosanitary Measures on Inspections, Integrated measures for pest risk management, and PPP frameworks to enhance the application of phytosanitary measures and increase compliance and trade.

It also included the development of Standard Operation Procedures on sampling, inspections, and certification for priority agricultural commodities.

CABI is an international not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. It has worked in Africa for many years, but in 1995 it formally established a regional centre in Nairobi.

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