Rwanda is a country of immense potential and countless opportunities. Despite its small size and geographical location in the squeeze and grip of mountains kilometres away from the sea, the country has the capacity to shock, surprise and excite economists and development experts.
In December 2017, the country grabbed another opportunity to spring faster into economic prosperity when the Rwanda Standards Board, received accreditation from the Dutch Accreditation Council (RVA), making it easier for Rwandan products to enter and compete in the international market.
The RVA is an internationally recognised standards accreditation body. Rwanda Standards Board is now accredited to carry out certification for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS, or ISO 22000).
HACCP is a widely sought-after certification in the food production, processing and handling industry, including by, establishments such as restaurants, abattoirs, fruit juice and vegetable processors and pack-houses.
It is a tool used to systemically identify, address and monitor food safety risks that may occur within the food handling process. HACCP certification assures buyers and consumers that food has been processed and handled in an environment that minimises the risk of food poisoning and the spread of food-borne infections.
On its part, FSMS (ISO 22000) is an internationally recognised, auditable standard applied to ensure that food is safely handled through the value chain. It includes and goes beyond the HACCP principles.
Rwanda gained this international recognition during the official launch of Zamukana Ubuziranenge, a new programme that will assist the local industry attain the desired quality and safety performance; build a strong quality and safety culture among Small and Medium Enterprises through creation of awareness.
The Zamukana Ubuziranenge, developed in conjunction with Ministry of Trade and Industry, will assist SMEs to be conversant with quality requirements contained in standards, thus easing standards implementation.
Entry into global markets
With the certification, food products from Rwanda can now gain entry into the European and global markets thus growing and expanding trade for the tiny Great Lakes nation.
The international accreditation of HACCP and FSMS certification schemes, enhances the trust of the quality of products with the RSB mark.
RSB has since its creation in 2002, provided: Quality services in standards development, quality assurance through industry inspection, market surveillance, import inspection and certification, testing, metrology services and awareness-raising.
Testing, certification, calibration and verification services are key to enhancing the competitiveness of Rwandan products, fair trade and consumer protection.
This will eventually promote Rwanda’s trade and socio-economic growth. Standards compliance also promotes quality, opens doors to broader market access and increases competitiveness leading to export opportunities.
Modern technology laboratory
Rwanda Standards Board has been working with TradeMark East Africa in acquiring a modern technology laboratory as well as international recognition of its mark of quality. It eventually acquired the certification of RSB against ISO 9001 and accreditation of HACCP and FSMS certification schemes.
The recent accreditation elevates the RSBs competence required to provide certification, in this case HACCP and FSMS. It also shows the country’s maturity in the management of food safety.
The country has minimised the risks associated with unhygienic handling of food throughout the value chain, from production to final consumption.
New businesses that will be seeking HAACP and FSMS certification are assured of the internationally recognised competence of RSB to offer this service.
The RSB accreditation brings significant benefits to the tourism industry, supports exports from Rwanda, and is a boost to the country’s efforts in improving the health of its citizens.
The RSB’s accreditation to offer HACCP and FSMS certification, will greatly aid in the achievement of Rwanda’s Vision 2020.
The accreditation process has also produced a credible pool of private quality assurers (auditors), who can now offer services in the food safety certification market.
Patience Mutesi is the country director in Rwanda for TradeMark East Africa.