By Sylvia Kirabo (MCIPR)
With the nationwide implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM), the role of standards is more crucial than ever.
Well aware that the goal of the PDM is to increase household incomes and improve the quality of life of Ugandans with a specific focus on the total transformation of the subsistence household into the money economy, UNBS is set as the standards perfect to play the desired role in the successful implementation of the programme.
Of the PDM seven pillars, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has an important role in Production, Storage, Processing, and Marketing – which is also the number one pillar. This is because a key component of the UNBS routine mandate rotates around this pillar.
Currently, the UNBS has prioritized standards that are critical in the realization of the Parish Development model by emphasizing the development and promotion of the standards that support key sectors of the economy and act as a catalyst for economic growth.
The priority commodities under the Parish Development model (PDM) such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, cassava, tea, vegetable oil, maize, rice, sugar cane, fish, dairy, beef, bananas, beans, avocado and shea-nuts among others, all have respective standards that can be accessed from the UNBS website.
This is particularly important considering that the mandate of UNBS is anchored on the welfare and social, and economic prosperity of the population.
Further, this is even highlighted in World Standards Day, being celebrated today under the global theme: “our shared vision for a better world”.
The day, (14th October) which Uganda through UNBS joins in the celebration with the rest of the globe, is set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the experts who volunteer their resources in developing standards for a better world.
Standard “omutindo” is technically the minimum requirement. Much like a pass mark in an examination. Standards also take into consideration a number of things.
For example, food standards will dictate for the food is safe when eaten or when a product is used, so that it never harms nor kills the consumer. And this already necessitates or even triggers our involvement in the PDM.
From the regulator’s side; UNBS has developed minimum safety requirements for all products to bear. This means, therefore, that every product must have minimum performance requirements, which define its intended purpose, and form the basis for building quality.
To date, UNBS has developed 4,548 standards in the areas of Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Chemicals and consumer products and Management and services at national, regional and international levels.
If standards become part and parcel of PDM as it should be, then it will be much easier for PDM products to access markets nationally, regionally and even internationally.
This is already happening with maize value chain. For example, the maize sector, by April 2021, had only 23 certified companies but currently over 300 companies mainly MSMEs have UNBS Certification.
UNBS has also decentralized Quality Infrastructure and other Standardization Services to the countryside with functional offices in Gulu, Mbarara and Mbale.
This has eased service delivery to our people thus enabling industries, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), businesses and the general public to access standardization services without necessarily coming to Kampala.
Now, as we celebrate standards this year, its critical to explore avenues of embracing standardization in our national policies of Building Back Post-COVID-19 by highlighting the challenges that the COVID-19 Pandemic has occasioned on both the national and global community, and what actions are necessary to revamp the economy and reset the nation back on track to achieve not just the Sustainable Development Goals but also attain our development aspirations under NDPIII.
Already the rollout of PDM is an important response towards enhancing household income and consolidating value addition. And our pledge as the standard body is that: we cannot wait to play our role in this space—PDM
Happy World Standards Day Uganda!
The writer is the head of public relations and marketing at Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS)