MARKUP Rolls out National Trainings on Development & Harmonisation of Food Standards in EAC
A series of trainings organised for 19 future trainers from national standard bodies and 142 stakeholders across sectors including academia, the private sector and government institutions have been held across East African countries to address a recognised knowledge gap in standards harmonisation.
The global trade in food products has tripled in the last decade with enormous impact on both the health of populations and the economies of nations. In these long, complex supply chains, it is vital that food is of good quality and is kept safe for consumption when it reaches the consumer. Food safety standards and regulations are essential to ensure food is safe at all points along the supply chains in both international trade and within the region.
The EAC recognises that an efficient, effective, balanced and responsive standards harmonization process is a critical component for trade development across East Africa. A study carried out by EAC-GIZ in the EAC in 2019 observed very low stakeholder capacity for effective participation in the harmonization of standards. This was attributed to limited awareness of the importance and processes for setting and harmonization of standards, limited appreciation by some public sector ministries, departments and agencies of the role of the private sector in standards setting, insufficient expertise amongst institutions, associations and private sector bodies participating in the EAC standards setting and poor communication and linkages between standards setting bodies and the private sector.
Addressing this knowledge gap, MARKUP through GIZ in partnership with the EAC developed a training manual on the development and harmonisation of standards with eight modules which covered The Concept of Standardization; Institutional Framework for Standardization; The Principles, Practices and Procedures for Development and Harmonization of Standards; Stakeholders Engagement; Training, Communication and Negotiation (TCN) Skills; and International Framework Standards- A Case Study on Food Standards.
MARKUP also supported a Training of Trainers (ToT) who will pass on the knowledge acquired to other technical committee members at their national level. The TOT segment reached out to 19 trainers (Burundi 4, Kenya 3, Rwanda 3, South Sudan 3, Tanzania 3 and Uganda 3).
The main training reached 142 national stakeholders – 23 in Burundi, 25 in Kenya, 17 in Rwanda, 27 in South Sudan, 25 in Tanzania and 25 in Uganda – and used a variety of methods including face-to-face lectures, discussions, in-session exercises and workshops, simulations, experience sharing and demonstrations to emphasise the importance of standards harmonisation and ensure participants gained the knowledge to set in motion action for standards harmonisation.
Testimonies from participants, feedback from evaluations questionnaires and communication exchanges between trainers, trainees and representatives from EAC and MARKUP indicated much success. 'I have already developed a concept to enable us in the university to work with students to generate some data on the effectiveness of standards and for use in standards development,' said Dr. Paul Mugabi, Kyambogo University, Kampala.
'Thank you for the initiative, this is something that had not happened before. Engagement with the private sector is very critical and EABC is happy to work with MARKUP to disseminate information on standards down to the lowest level,' said Lameck Wesonga from EABC.
Mr. David Ebuku, lead regional trainer, expressed the need for a comprehensive training of trainers to ensure that trainers have competence and confidence to continue training at national level. 'This will enhance a common understanding among the trainers which can be transmitted to stakeholders at national level. The current level of competence appears to vary amongst Partner States,' he added during the training report validation workshop held on 25th May 2021.
Harmonization of standards at the EAC is guided by “Principles and procedures for the development of East African Standards” formulated in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT Agreement). The principles and procedures to be adhered to, establish a preferred style for the development of the standards thereby allowing for consistency of the documents, as well as elaborating on the methodologies for publication of standards.
Read more about the development and harmonisation of standards in the EAC in the MARKUP Policy Briefs no. 1 - 4.
Photo credits: GIZ/Roshni Lodhia