UGANDA – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future (FtF) Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets (IAM) Activity, aimed at supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to improve the quality of their products, services and systems.
The MoU intends to increase product certification in the areas of health, safety and food processing, standards awareness and conformity requirements among MSMEs and build capacity and certification of private labs to conduct product conformity tests. It will also intensify awareness campaigns on the need for the population to consume quality certified products
During the MoU signing, the UNBS Deputy Executive Director in charge of Standards, Ms. Patricia Bageine Ejalu noted that MSMES are a crucial engine of Uganda’s economy, thus the need to harness their opportunities through technical support to enable them comply with the relevant standards requirements and enrolment on the UNBS certification scheme.
“Many MSMEs have been affected by COVID-19 but we are trying to see how we can boost quality and standards awareness among them. We need to get people to understand why standards are important. We need them to appreciate standards to unlock their potential to access both national and regional markets,” Said Ms. Patricia Bageine Ejalu.
She further called for MSMEs to work through associations for easy access of the support from UNBS. The Chief of Party of the USAID FtF Uganda IAM Activity, Mr. Collins Apuoyo, revealed that their wish is to see more MSMEs acquire UNBS certification.
“We believe that creating a good relationship between UNBS and MSMEs goes a long way in strengthening service delivery. We also believe that this MoU will fulfil our vision of enrolling more MSMEs for UNBS certification,” said Collins.
The activity seeks to increase incomes and improve the livelihood of households through agriculture-led inclusive economic growth in 38 districts in Northern, Eastern and Western Uganda. To achieve this goal, it will leverage a market development approach, which capacitates local actors especially the public and private sectors to upgrade practices and technologies required to increase productivity and profitability.
The partnership comes at a time when UNBS has embarked on backing MSMEs and the entire private sector to improve their products, services and systems to promote Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) in the country and internationally. It has reduced the UNBS product certification fees, introduced batch certification and pre-market approval programs, and provided free standards for select products to MSME groups.
To increase access and reduce the cost of seeking services from the central office in Kampala, UNBS has decentralized its services to regional offices. In addition, it has harmonized common user standards to facilitate access to regional, continental and international markets. The agency has further ensured maintenance of internationally accredited Laboratories to provide testing services for both local products, imports and exports and simplified standards into easy to use guidelines translated to local languages.