Sudan has given Uganda a two-year grace period to comply with its new standards of coffee exports or else lose the market. Uganda exports approximately over 0.8m bags of coffee annually to Sudan, making it the leading importer of the country’s coffee in Africa and second importer in the world for the last 15 years.
The understanding was reached during a meeting held in Sudan’s capital – Khartoum last week where a delegation from Uganda’s Trade ministry met the Sudan Standards Metrology Organisation (SSMO) headed by director general, Dr Awad M. A. Sokrab.
The new Sudan standards differ from what Uganda coffee grading system and the green coffee grading protocol in several parameters such as coffee grades, moisture content and requires testing for agricultural chemical residues, radioactivity, microbiological and biochemical contaminants.
Yet for Uganda’s coffee to enter the Sudan market, it should comply with SSMO’s international surveyor certificate from international surveyor companies registered by SSMO; an international surveyor certificate approved by the national standards body of the country of origin, and a certificate from an international accredited laboratory approved by the national standards body of the country of origin.
Sudan also appointed an inspecting company, Bureau Veritas, to carry out pre-shipment inspection of the Uganda coffee exports to Sudan.
“Unfortunately their laboratories are located in Mombasa, Kenya, which because of the time and expense of analysis, makes Ugandan coffee non-competitive. These developments would pause a serious setback for Uganda coffee export to Sudan,” Nakakande noted.
Uganda National Bureau of Standards, which was represented by Ms Patricia Ejalu the deputy executive director, committed to assess their capacity to analyse safety requirements by June 30 2016.
During the two-year period all parameters will be assessed for each consignment shipped to Sudan by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) or other laboratories recognised by UNBS.
Bone of contention
In May 2015, the SSMO sent notification to Uganda informing them about their new regulations regarding the pre-shipment inspection of commodities imported into Sudan which included coffee.
The inspections are to be done against a new green coffee grading standard – (SDS: 1605.2015) for coffee imports.
According to Ms Khadija Nakakande, Trade ministry’s public relations officer, Uganda had originally been given a grace period of six months to comply which was later extended to three more months ending June 15 this year. But this has now been extended to two years.
“Because we had not complied yet, we needed more time as our coffee laboratories are not yet up to the standards to check the coffee as per the Sudan requirements. This is why we asked for more time,” Nakakande noted.
Reacting to this development, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, said: “It is fundamental that Uganda works towards improving the quality of our coffee exports as well as that sold on the domestic market.” She directed Uganda Coffee Development Authority and UNBS to work on improving the physical and safety parameters of Uganda’s tradable coffee.