SEATINI, UNBS and USSIA Train Agro-Processing MSMES on Product and Digital Market Standards Requirements
According to Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda has a an extensive Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) sector which accounts for approximately 90% of the entire Private Sector with over 80% of manufactured output contributing about 75% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing more than 2.5 million people.
SEATINI Uganda in partnership with Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and with support from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, CASA and Common Wealth Foundation conducted trainings for a total of 250 Agro-Processing MSMES in Gulu and Lira districts to comply with the minimum standards to increase their competitiveness both in local and regional markets.
The various tailor-made sessions provided an opportunity for MSMES gain practical skills on how to undertake online marketing for their products, have their products certified by the UNBS and penetrate viable markets. The sessions also provided a platform for MSMES to share their experiences and reflect on key challenges in their effort to comply with existing standard requirements.
The trainings were followed by field visits that provided an opportunity for SEATINI Uganda, USSIA and UNBS to physically assess the status of the MSMES in light of their levels of compliance to standard procedures prescribed by UNBS.
Ms Jane Nalunga, Executive Director, SEATINI Uganda noted that Agro-processing MSMES provide an avenue for the creation of forward and backward linkages and generating income for producers and value chain actors.
‘‘Product certification and standardization are critical if MSMES are to access international markets and become part of the global value chain. She added that there are a number of benefits associated with certification such as improving quality of goods and services, give a business a competitive edge in national, regional and international markets, and enhance credibility and secure customer confidence among other benefits.
Mr Ronald Ahimbisibwe, the Principal Certification Officer, UNBS reiterated that certification is all about process improvement and not a policing activity. He added that quality should be everyone’s responsibility.
‘‘The new fees imply a reduction in certification fees by Shs 350,000 for Micro and Small Enterprises and Shs 300,000 for Medium and Large enterprises. However, enterprises will still have to pay for laboratory testing fees depending on the parameters analyzed for individual products,’’ Mr Ahimbisibwe said.
In her remarks, Ms Dorcus Alum, Lira District Agricultural Officer emphasized that what drives production is the market and without an assured market, there is no need to produce.
James Otim, General Manager Kweyo Grower’s Cooperatives Society noted that when they first started the certification process, it was very expensive.
‘‘I am glad that the certification fees were reduced,’’ Mr Otim said.
Mr Alfred Ocen, Senior Commercial Officer, Gulu District Local Government observed that there is no incentive for meeting quality standards and this is demotivating farmers and producers.
‘‘Access to online markets by MSMES has been a challenge and very few MSMES have their products listed on these platforms. In order to solve this challenge, SEATINI Uganda is deliberating building capacity of MSMES in terms of enhancing their understanding of the new regulations for online markets and boosting their capacity to ensure that their products are listed on these different online platforms and that they are able to meet the minimum required standards,’’ Mr Africa Kiiza, Trade Policy Analyst, SEATINI Uganda said.