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Maize value chain/East-Southern Africa – COMESA launches Road Map to boost regional maize trade

17 January 2016

The maize trade in Eastern and Southern Africa is set to rise following a roadmap to address bottlenecks caused by differences in standards and regulations. This was unveiled during the launching of COMESA Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF) by Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in Kampala. The aim was to provide equivalence of analytical results and recognition of certificates of analysis that are issued by the participating countries. This will eliminate the need for multiple testing by both exporting and importing countries while facilitate industrial development and trade as well as helping to protect the health and safety of member state’s societies. C-MRF was developed by COMESA secretariat in partnership with six countries(Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) that have significant maize trade in the region. The key components are common grading criteria, proficiency testing for aflatoxin and a risk-based sampling protocol. According to Thierry Mutombo Kalonji, COMESA’s Director for Agriculture and Industry, revealed that lack of mutual recognition of technical standards and conformity assessment (testing and certification) was a persistent non-tariff barrier. He noted that COMESA framework has recognized the fact that regulatory barriers are sometimes a result of varied technical capacities in the public and private sector entities across the region. Without mutual recognition of standards and certificates of analysis, regulatory barriers persist causing an unpredictable regulatory environment that comes at a high cost to traders and contributes to the growing informal trade. C-MRF presenter, Dr Mukayi Musarurwa emphasized that, countries with developed food control systems face difficulties in trading with those having weak systems. Staple foods crossing borders are subjected to conformity assessment procedures that come at a high cost to traders. According to him, the initiative is meant to facilitate greater flexibility where regulatory frameworks differ. C-MRF will be instrumental in driving policy coordination and integration between member states. It will facilitate a seamless regional market and a functional free trade area and common market. The framework will be implemented in member states through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs). These will entail each other’s assessment and grading systems to avoid subjecting maize products to unnecessary and overlapping procedures.



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