RWANDA – The Rwanda Standards Board is set to introduce a special logo of standards, the ‘S-MARK’, on approved products in a bid to promote reduction of counterfeit products and improve visibility in the international market.
According to a News Times Report, Muriro however insisted that operators in local food processing need to implement guidelines on fulfilling standards in order to ensure competitiveness and increase exports.
“Certifying and standardising business is key for competitiveness on the market and increases exports that have the S-MARK,” he said.
Mr Muriro noted that agro-processing is an important sector in the country’s economy which contributes to about 65% of the total products in the Rwandan market and hence certification for standards could boost exports.
“This means lack of standards for food products could affect market access,” he said.
However, he said that there challenges in accessing Knowledge and information on the S-MARK have been a major impediment in its actualisation.
“Standards are assessed in the whole value chain of food processing. The standards are not assessed on the finished product but along the whole value chain such as post-harvest handling, hygiene, processing and ingredients, among others,” he explained.
Muriro added that a special S-MARK for locally made products will soon be unveiled with a new technology to help in monitoring substandard and uncertified goods in the market.
“We have been giving S-MARK certification to different products but it was difficult to do inspections across the market due to analogue technology.
This has pushed us to introduce a technology that will help consumers wherever they are, to track and know where the product was made, who made it and if it meets minimum standards,” he said.
The new feature will use mobile devices to assess both locally made and imported goods and is set to be launched by end April.
Officials said the system will start by tracking processed food and beverages, and especially those meant for the vulnerable such as children and elderly.
According to the board the S-MARK logo will reveal information of the product such as the manufacturer, date and place of manufacture, the ingredients and raw materials used and proof if it’s a counterfeit or not upon its implementation.
This is part of the country’s strategy in promoting locally made goods under the National Strategy for Transformation 1 which advocates for promotion of industrial development, export, and trade-related infrastructure.
Under the system, locally made products will be given protected the S-MARK as “Made-in-Rwanda Protected Mark” while imported products will be marked with “Protected Imports Inspection Mark.