TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) today committed to fund Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) with US$ 1 Million in support of projects that will enhance food safety and trade. The new interventions will benefit farmers, pack houses, feed millers and feed transporters who will be enabled to attain international sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) requirements in food safety of local agricultural products; enabling them to access a wide range of markets within the region and internationally.
The announcement was made during the signing of a financing agreement between the two organizations, held this afternoon in Kigali.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided funding through TMEA.
RSB and TMEA say the interventions, which will be implemented over the next 4 years, will range from automation of RSB processes to improve service delivery and increase customer satisfaction, to development of a 7 year strategic plan that will guide RSB in keeping up with global best practice in standards and SPS measures, to upgrading certification schemes to reach advanced standards.
The agreement with RSB is part of TMEA’s US$ 50 Million programme with the government of Rwanda (GoR) that aims to support interventions that will improve the country’s competitiveness through investments in key sectors, of which agriculture is one. Agriculture is the main economic activity in Rwanda that accounts for 33% of the GDP, and within which 70% of the population engages in. Around 72% of the working population is employed in agriculture, making it a critical intervention area for TMEA in its mandate of increasing access to markets of Rwandan products, as this will translate to creation of jobs and reduction of poverty.
The support will build on achievements of previous programmes TMEA undertook with RSB between 2010 to 2017 and ongoing government of Rwanda efforts to review, develop, and implement trade policies and projects that will enable Rwanda realize its economic transformation as outlined under vision 2020 and the National Strategy for Transformation.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Director General of RSB, Mr. Raymond Murenzi said, “RSB is committed to supporting the private sector in Rwanda to comply to standards and access markets in Rwanda, East Africa, and beyond. Internally, we are keen to improve on our service delivery model and our commitment to ensuring not only consumer safety but trade facilitation. Our past partnership with TradeMark East Africa was productive in enhancing RSB’s capacity, and we are looking forward to our renewed partnership to improve on our systems and market engagement.”
Giving her comments, TMEA Country Director Patience Mutesi-Gatera said, “We want to ensure that we support standards and certifications to leverage the trading platforms and the improved physical and digital infrastructure. As productivity increases as it is expected to, and regional and global tariff barriers are eliminated, standards and SPS issues tend to rise in prominence, given countries’ commitment to safeguard public health, animal health and the environment. We would like to ensure that RSB and Rwanda in general is not affected by technical barriers to trade that may arise as a result”
Interventions will result in at least 90 enterprises complying with ISO 22000 by 2023, certification of an additional 40 enterprises in specific food chains in compliance with ISO 22000 by 2023, upgrading of laboratory and management information systems to improve exchange of information with stakeholders.
Economic benefits will accrue to the trade sector players who will be enabled to reach the desired quality and safety performance making it easier to enter and compete in the national, regional and international markets. The programming will complement awareness initiatives implemented with Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) that aim to assist small and medium enterprises to be conversant with quality requirements contained in standards thus easing standards implementation in SME’s towards SME’s.