MARKUP Equips Laboratories to Support Agricultural Exports in Burundi
While Burundi can produce some of the best quality tea, coffee and horticulture in the East African Community, problems with consistency and low social and environmental standards are hindering industry expansion and Burundi’s ability to access premium international markets.
Quality challenges have been worsened by awareness of the importance and the processes for setting and harmonisation of standards, insufficient training and the absence of a manual to guide newly appointed office bearers to the relevant committees. The country also has few laboratories and there is limited interaction between the public and private sector.
To address the challenges, MARKUP, through ITC, organised training workshops on the ISO 17025 for laboratories technicians, quality managers and laboratory managers at the National Agricultural Research Institution of Burundi, Bureau Burundais de Normalisation et de contrôle de qualité, Centre National de Technologie Alimentaire, Institut des Sciences Agronomique du Burundi, Office pour le Développement du Café du Burundi and Office du Thé du Burundi also participated in the training.
The ISO 17025 is a key certification for labs that perform testing, sampling and calibration and are keen to ensure that competent laboratory staff operate and generate valid lab results. The trainings conducted jointly with Burundian Bureau of Standardisation and Quality (BBN) was accompanied by a blank or mock audit of two of the participating companies. The trainings have since led to a marked improvement in understanding of the requirements of the respective ISO and equiped BBN with the capacity to develop a legal framework to conduct certification audits of the customer management system.
Through such efforts, MARKUP aims at upgrading these institutions to the highest standard, recognised at the international level, which will eventually contribute to the removal of the non-tariff barriers for Burundi’s key agricultural sector products.
In partnership with the National Agricultural Research Institution of Burundi (ISABU), MARKUP also donated an Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. This equipment is used to conduct tests of occhratoxins, fumonisins and pesticide residues for coffee, tea and horticultural products. MARKUP trained laboratory staff on good laboratory practices, laboratory quality management system, sample analysis and business planning.