The Uganda National Bureau of Standards UNBS) has released standards for the maize industry targeting maize processors including millers and parkers who have no quality certification.
The standards agency says unregulated farming, post-harvest handling as well as processing has been a major hindrance to increasing the size of maize exports.
Uganda produces an estimated 2.5 million tons of maize, with exports worth between USD 120 and 150 million annually, mainly from the regional market. This makes maize the biggest food crop Uganda produces in terms of value, both for the local and export markets.
But in recent years, exports have faced challenges due to standards. These include the presence of moths, weevils and the poisonous aflatoxin, some of the reasons usually used by export markets like Kenya to restrict Ugandan exports.
The agency called upon maize flour dealers to enroll for certification and warned maize processors who do not have the standard mark to immediately cease operations.
The UNBS Manager Surveillance, Daniel Arowa, says all millers must abide by the UNBS quality regulations, including acquiring the UNBS Q-mark before their products is put in the market.
Mr. John Paul Musimami, UNBS Deputy Excutive Director Compliance said most millers are using packaging that is not theirs which makes tracking difficult and we ask maize millers to desist from deceptive labelling.
Maize millers should take hygiene of their premises seriously because hygiene of maize milling companies contributes to the quality of the final product. UNBS Public Relations Officer, Barbara Kamusiime advised maize flour stakeholders to get a moisture meter to gauge the moisture content in their products.
The moisture content should not be more than 13.5% according to the standards.
The challenge is now whether the millers, most of whom are small and medium enterprises will be able to install all that is required to meet the standards. Millers claim the standards are too high and that many of them need help like buying equipment since many of them have been in the business for long, ‘doing things according to their ability’.