27 November 2012

East Africa: Uniform East African Community Standards Move Laudable

Photo: The Daily News
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda (third right) inspects a pharmaceutical factory in Dar es Salaam (file photo).


THE East African Community (EAC) member states are to adopt a uniform policy that will check standards of soya products in the region. When operational, the member states will have to adhere to strict regulations as an effort to protect the local markets against cheap imports.

This also aims to improve quality of soya products to put importers and exporters on the level playing field unlike in the present situation whereby cheap imports have continued to hurt peasant farmers.

According to the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), soya products are important protein source that is increasingly preferred worldwide, thus a need to introduce quality controls. It's on record that some selfish importers have been capitalizing on lack of a clear policy on standards to import soya products from Asia into the local market.

Already, the government has started to work on the issue and will present its position during the East African Regional Standards meeting drafted for January next year in Dar es Salaam. Earnestly, putting quality controls on food products should be a top priority by the government due to negative effects on the health of consumers.

Obesity among children is one of many effects caused by junk food and this has raised alarm all over the world especially in Europe and the US. The controls will also help the local farmers who can now export their produce to the lucrative European and Middle East markets.

The latest move is laudable because Africa has become a dumping site for cheap imports and this will ultimately protect the potential East African market which has become a focus of multinational companies. It's against this backdrop that the EAC member states must adopt the standardization policy without failure, short of which the poor peasant farmers would continue to languish in abject poverty.

A report by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) indicates that the nation incurs losses of between 15 and 25 per cent of the total domestic revenue, and between 540bn/- and 900bn/- annually in tax evasion related to counterfeits and substandard goods. So, based on these figures, there is an urgent need to raise alarm and the authorities must act before it's too late.

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