Officials from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) have appealed to their Sudanese counterparts to reasonably relax the regulations on Ugandan coffee entering their market.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting held at Serena Conference Center in Kampala held between Ugandan coffee processors, exporters, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Sudan Standards Meteorology Organisation (SSMO), the Director of Quality and Regulatory Services at UCDA, Edmund Kananura revealed that the regulatory agency had requested their Sudanese counterparts to allow them conduct a ‘single inspection annually’.
“When our colleagues reached us in 2015 informing us about their new regulations regarding the pre-shipment inspection of commodities imported into the Sudan which included coffee, our worries at first was how to engage private investors whose labs were outside the country (mainly in Kenya). The cost was high. However, this was achieved through building capacity of UCDA,” Kananura said.
“During our engagements yesterday with the Sudanese delegation, we requested for a single annual inspection because inspection of every consignment will be very costly for the country,” he added.
Zakaria Suliman Salih, the deputy director general of SSMO, who led the Sudanese delegation, said their new regulations were aimed at protecting their consumers. “We want to protect the consumers of coffee in our country. Get to know the challenges when exporting. Doing this, we are not creating barrier to trade but instead want to facilitate the smooth flow of trade between the two countries,” he noted.
He also commented about the overwhelming hospitality they have received in Uganda, saying: “Ugandans are very hospitable people. We have enjoyed our meetings with the coffee processors, traders and regulators. We are happy to see that they are complying with our new regulations.”
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Christopher Kibazanga assured the Sudanese delegation that government was committed to meeting the new regulations.
“Our engagement with SSMO dates when officials from UCDA had a meeting in Khartoum following the new set standards. As minister of Agriculture, I’ll ensure that our coffee meets the set standards,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, indicates that the ministry appreciated the grace period that was given to Uganda to meet the new standards.
“Thanks for the enough grace period that was given to us. We are also thankful for collaboration between UCDA and UNBS in making sure these standards are met. Sudanese market is extremely important to our country: at an economic and political level.”
The Sudanese delegation is in Uganda for a week tour to check all the coffee supply chain from the farmers, standards officials, UCDA and all stakeholders in the sub-sector.
Uganda exports about 4.6 million 60- kilogramme bags of coffee a year and 20% (920,000) go to Sudan, the second biggest consumer of Uganda’s coffee, only beaten by the European Union.