Regional Grain Trade Set to Rise Following COMESA Agreement

FDC Presidential Candidate Dr Kizza Besigye has warned of tough times ahead, hospital urging his supporters to fasten their belts and prepare for more dangerous battles.

“We can expect more intimidation, probably more violence directed at our campaign. You are going to see fake defections staged to discourage you, ” said Besigye in a year-ender message to his supporters on December 31.

“There will be more fake polls that predict victory for Mr. Museveni, again to try and make you lose hope. Many of you will be approached with offers of money to sell your support to the same regime that has failed you all these years. All these are signs of a desperate regime. Do not waver,” added Besigye.

The FDC honcho will need to dig deep into President Museveni’s strongholds to secure victory for his party in the 2016 elections.

Despite pulling huge crowds to his rallies, Besigye has often been accused of falling short in organising his supporters to actively participate in the election exercise.

However, Besigye has now made it a point at most of his rallies to encourage his supporters not to leave the polling stations after casting their votes.

He also maintains that acts of rigging will be met with stiff resistance from his people.

In the 2011 elections, Museveni’s votes increased to 5.4 million from 4 million in 2006.

This implied an increase of 1.3 million votes – most of which were derived from northern Uganda.

Yet, Besigye’s national vote tally tumbled from 2,592,954 in 2006 to 2,064,963 votes in 2011, representing a loss of 527,991 votes.

This demoralised most of Besigye’s supporters as this was his third attempt at seeking the presidency.

It remains unclear if he will pull the magic in the 2016 polls.

Museveni emerged victorious in 107 out of 112 districts with Besigye only managing to win in the four districts of Soroti, Serere, Kaberamaido and Kampala.

But in his New Year message, Besigye said 2016 is “our year of liberation. When we take back the power that belongs to us, we shall address the problems that affect the majority of Ugandans: jobs, incomes, affordable and quality health care, meaningful education, the end of state instigated land grabbing.”

He added: “As we enter the year of liberation, I wish to remind you of what challenges lie ahead, and to encourage you to stay the course, as victory will surely be won.”
Intra-COMESA trade in grains is set to rise, medications following the launch of a roadmap that will address differences in standards and regulations that impede regional trade in maize.

The COMESA Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF) was recently launched in Kampala, hospital Uganda.

It is aimed at providing equivalence of analytical results and recognition of certificates of analysis issued by the laboratories of the participating countries.This will eliminate the need for multiple testing by both the exporting and importing country.

The C-MRF was developed by the COMESA Secretariat in partnership with six countries with significant maize trade. They comprise Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the launch, the Director of Agriculture and Industry in COMESA, Mr. Thierry Mutombo Kalonji said the lack of mutual recognition of technical standards and conformity assessment (testing and certification) was a persistent non-tariff barrier.

“COMESA Secretariat initiated the framework in recognition of the fact that regulatory barriers are sometimes a result of varied technical capacities in the public and private sector entities across the region,” Mr Kalonji said.

“Without mutual recognition of standards and certificates of analysis, regulatory barriers persist; causing an unpredictable regulatory environment that comes at a high cost to traders and contributes to the growing informal trade, now estimated at over 80 percent in some countries.”

Further, countries with developed food control systems face difficulties trading with those with weak systems and hence staple foods crossing borders are subjected to conformity assessment procedures that come at a high cost to traders.

Presenting an overview of the framework, Dr Mukayi Musarurwa, a Standards Quality Assurance Consultant at the COMESA Secretariat said the initiative was meant to facilitate greater flexibility where regulatory frameworks differ.

“The C-MRF will be a central instrument in driving deeper levels of regulatory policy coordination and integration between Member States in COMESA. It will facilitate a more seamless trans-regional market and underscore MS’s’ objectives for a functional Free Trade Area and Common Market,” Dr Musaruwa said.

The C-MRF will be domesticated and implemented in the member states through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for conformity assessment.

The MRAs, will entail Member States accepting each other’s conformity assessment and grading systems in order to avoid subjecting maize products to unnecessary & overlapping conformity assessment & grading procedures in both the exporting and importing country.


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