Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) in partnership with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Uganda Cocoa Development Association yesterday held a consultative meeting with stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to review the draft East African Standards for cocoa developed under the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (EU-EAC MARKUP). UCDA is the implementing partner for the EU-EAC MARKUP under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
The main objective for the EU-EAC MARKUP is to contribute to the EAC’s economic development through boosting trade and regional integration with a specific objective of improving EU and regional market access for EAC countries in selected sub-sectors such as coffee, tea, cocoa, horticulture and spices. Under the EU-EAC MARKUP, the priority products for Uganda are coffee and cocoa. The EU-EAC MARKUP has also earmarked over one million euros in a matching grant scheme for cocoa farmers to increase production, productivity and value addition.
The meeting was held at Comfort Hotel in Bundibugyo district.
"Standards are the benchmark against which we can trade," said Mr. Godwin Katwirenabo, National Programme Coordinator of the EU-EAC MARKUP.
"As a country that grows cocoa, we risk being outcompeted by other cocoa growing countries if we don't set our own standards," he added.
The meeting was part of consultations to form Uganda’s position in the harmonization of cocoa and related standards at the EAC Level. Once approved, the standards will be the benchmark against which cocoa trade will be handled in the East African region and will help streamline the sub sector.
"Under the East African Community, we have not had a standard for cocoa. In 2018, the EU came in to support us develop standards for different sectors and coffee and cocoa are one of our priority areas," said Ms. Pamela Akwap, Senior Standards Officer, UNBS.
The stakeholders reviewed the draft EAC standard for cocoa beans and their feedback will be considered in the final standard.
Emmanuel Maniraguha, Chairperson Uganda Cocoa Development Association said that the standards once implemented will help them improve and compete better in the market.
“How can we improve? How can we trade better? That is the reason we are here,” Mr. Maniraguha told the members.
The National Development Plan NDP III and the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan have included cocoa as a priority crop.
The cocoa sub sector can play an important role in the development of Uganda and can uplift the lives of farmers in Bundibugyo and other areas where it is a predominant crop.