UNBS, Agriculturists Get Commonwealth Standards Network Support

Participants at the launch of the Commonwealth Standards Network Project in Kampala, Uganda Participants at the launch of the Commonwealth Standards Network Project in Kampala, Uganda

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards is collaborating with the British Standards Institution (BSI) under the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) Programme, which will support UNBS to achieve its strategic objectives and support agricultural and other value chains in complying with international best practices.

The Programme will support finalisation of the National Standardization Strategy and will provide targeted technical assistance in improving the core UNBS functions – such as testing, certification and inspections.

It also aims to raise awareness of product requirements and commitment to quality in a number of agricultural and related value chains where difficulties are being experienced in exporting fruit, vegetables, fish and other commodities. 

UNBS Test Laboratories, the National Metrology Laboratory and the Certification and Import Inspection Departments will benefit from specialised training and a range of capacity-building interventions, led by international and regional industry experts.

Additionally, existing standards and guideline documents for agricultural and related goods will be simplified and translated, and training will be provided to grass roots producers. 

Upon completion, the project is expected to deliver a number of important benefits. This includes further enhancing Uganda’s ability to maintain quality standards for its products and services, especially food exports to international trading partners, as well as greater awareness about the benefits of UNBS services and activities among MSME’s.

Ultimately, these interventions will help UNBS to continue to set the effective standards for consumer safety, environmental protection and facilitate access to international markets for Ugandan products targeting the Commonwealth nations. 

In her speech, UK Prime Minister Teresa May said: “Our Commonwealth family already accounts for one-fifth of global trade, and we must continue to work together to build further upon this solid foundation by building on our existing trade links and establishing new ones.”

“I firmly believe that regardless of which corner of the Commonwealth you are from, we all will benefit from the jobs created by doing so. Every one of those new jobs will mean another family seeing their hard work rewarded, and the spread of greater opportunity.”

UNBS Executive Director, Dr. Ben Manyindo, said: “The support from the Commonwealth Network will go a long way in improving the competitiveness of local products in international markets which will improve our balance of trade especially among the selected value chains”.   

Overview of the Commonwealth Standards Network Programme 

The CSN Programme was announced in the UK Prime Minister’s keynote speech during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in May 2018. The programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development and implemented by the British Standards Institution (BSI), sets out to: 

  • Facilitate the growth of global value chains in the Commonwealth developing economies, particularly in supported sectors;
  • increase the volume of products and services exported from Commonwealth developing economies, that meet international standards;
  • create connections between Commonwealth countries (particularly National Standards Bodies and Ministries of Trade), allowing them to identify new trade opportunities;
  • improve the business environment and create competitiveness; and
  • enhance the use of International Standards to foster innovation and improve export potential. 

Set to finish in March 2020, the CSN Programme is organized along the three bespoke technical assistance streams and addresses key Quality Infrastructure challenges in Africa (Uganda and Zambia), Oceania (Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu) and the Caribbean (St. Lucia).

Additionally, an online portal designed to improve standards development and increase information sharing between Commonwealth National Standards Bodies and key stakeholders will be created for the benefit all Commonwealth member states.

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