BUJUMBURA May 22nd (ABP) – The African Regional Organization for Standardization (ARSO) in collaboration with the Burundi Bureau of Standardization and Quality Control (BBN), organized on Wednesday May 17, 2023, an awareness workshop on the ARSO standards for agricultural and food products.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism, Mrs. Catherine Faïda, indicated that the application of standards by a company allows the latter to increase its overall performance, while adding that the advantages that standardization provides it with, constitute strategic assets.
Mrs. Faïda underlined that the standards of African regional organization in trade appear as an important potential tool. They contribute to the diversification of the volume of Africa’s export products and enhance manufacturing and industrialization as well as strong economic performance.
She thus indicated that this awareness-raising workshop on ARSO standards, relating to agricultural and food products, aims to make an improvement in the agri-food sector which constitutes an economic lever for the country and the fight against poverty.
Indeed, the Permanent Secretary has listed several challenges faced by farmers and food producers in selling their products. These challenges are, among others, the limited knowledge of modern agricultural practices, storage and transport conditions, standards and conformity assessment procedures which are initially established to regulate markets, but which sometimes end up creating technical barriers to trade because of their divergence.
As for the Secretary General of ARSO, Hermogene Nsengimana, the African Standards Organization has started awareness workshops across the African continent and for all standards. But in Burundi, he continued to say, agriculture has been targeted as a pillar of industrial development. At the level of the whole Africa, the harmonization reaches more than 1600 standards in different sectors. He pointed out that out of 84 technical committees, the agricultural sector has 22. He added that there are also plans to raise awareness among the private sector of industry and institutions in charge of standardization and technical regulations.
According to Mr. Nsengimana, the African continent is at 12% of the standards it must put in place to apply the continental free trade agreements.
As a result, ARSO has made studies on the priorities of the standards to be developed and harmonized, he pointed out. These include agriculture, textiles and leather, automotive, tourism and mining.
Finally, the secretary general of ARSO indicated that this organization is in the process of creating ambassadors on the application of the standards of the African organization but also international standards. In Burundi, we can use a standard, a test and a certificate, even if the product is accepted in other countries without having asked for other tests.
According to the director general of the Burundian Bureau for Standardization and Quality Control (BBN), Séverin Sindayikengera, that awareness will bring Burundians in general, manufacturers or all stakeholders, to be aware of those standards which will be applied to products, so that they can be competitive and easily enter the African market.