THE East African Community (EAC) member states are finalising the establishment of standards meant to check the quality and safety of soya products as well as protecting consumers against inferior and sub-standard products.
Already, Tanzania has deliberated on the matter and will present its position during the East African Regional Standards meeting scheduled for Dar es Salaam in January, next month.
Standardization of soya products will not only put standard procedures to be applied before one buys and consumes the products, but will also enable the entire business community to confidently export or import the products within the region.
Speaking at the opening of a consultative meeting that met to discuss the draft yesterday, the Acting Director General of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Mr Leandri Kinabo, said soya beans products are important protein source that are increasingly preferred worldwide.
"Results from researches have prompted health professionals to request governments to officially offer a stamp of approval for soya products therefore, standards are necessary for controlling quality and safety to protect consumers," he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the TBS Manager for Process Technology Standards, Eng. Tumaini Mtitu, Mr Kinabo insisted that full deliberation on the draft standards and coming up with scientific-based decisions was important for the harmonization process.
If agreed, the soya standards will not only improve quality of products unlike in the present, but will also facilitate importers and exporters to trade ensuring quality between business partners in the region.
Commenting on the development, the Chairman of the Consultative Committee, Prof. Henry Lasway from the Department of Food Science of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), said soya products have increasingly produced protein that has helped many people.
He mentioned some of the beneficiaries as HIV-AIDS patients whose health status improve a lot when taking soya products like cereals. "Now, consumption of soya products has spread from only children in the past to the public at large, today. We have equally suffered many economic setbacks for failure to export it due to lack of standardization," he said.
The January meeting will involve a number of stakeholders from the region including SMEs, member of academia, representation from ministries of food and agriculture as well as experts from standards bodies.