RWANDA – Poor quality and substandard processed foodstuffs and beverages could soon be history, thanks to a move by the standards body to enforce sector standards guidelines. 

The Rwanda Standards board (RSB) has notified all the manufacturers and processors of food and feed products to register their products with its quality assurance unit within a month.

Failure to register will attract penalties, according to an RSB notice published on Thursday last week.

In an interview with The New Times, the director for quality assurance at RSB, Phillip Nzaire, said the move aims at ensuring quality in the sector to make Rwanda’s agro-products competitive, as well as safeguard people’s lives by increasing food safety.

The standards watchdog is enforcing ministerial instructions No. 21/2013 passed in 2013 on compulsory Rwanda standards.

Nzaire noted that the exercise is also intended to develop a database to ease government planning, especially infrastructure development for the sectors.

“We also want to keep track of the processors, monitoring their products, and what kinds of interventions we can make to help improve production processes of local industries,” he added.

Processors and makers of whole wheat flour, millet flour; sorghum grains, dry beans, edible full fat, soybean flour, pasta products, fortified milled maize, mortified malt, fortified edible oils and fats, fortified sugar, cooked packaged maize, black tea, roasted coffee beans and roasted ground coffee are being targeted.

Makers of honey, milk and its products; beef, cakes, cookies, fruit jams, jellies and marmalades, peanut butter; chilli sauce, ground cassava leaves (Isombe), among others, need also to register their products with RSB.

“Beyond the stated deadline, all manufacturers of the above mentioned sectors who will not have fulfilled the obligations required by this announcement, will face penalties,” the notice signed by Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, the RSB director general, says.

Damien Hakizimana, a wine maker in Nduba Sector, Gasabo District, said the exercise is timely, adding that it is only through quality assurance that Rwandan products can become competitive locally and in the region.

“We need to register products to create confidence among the public about food items made locally… It will help us to be competitive on the regional and international markets,” Hakizimana said.

According to Alice Mukamuganga, another food processor in Kimironko, consuming safe food is a right, which local processors must respect by registering their products with RSB.

Laetitia Nyiraneza, a consumer of fortified products from Niboye sector, Kicukiro District, supported RBS’ move, saying some companies operate illegally and produce fake goods.

John Gakumba, another consumer, said he bought juice made by a local company and found it was expired when he checked later at home.

Processors in Kigali and Bugesera are expected to register between today and February 19, those from Eastern and Southern provinces will register from February 22-26, while manufacturers in the Northern and Western provinces are expected to register their products from February 29–March 4, according to the standards body notice dated February 3.

February 15, 2016;