The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has set up an advanced Endpoint Crop Inspection Area at Entebbe International Airport, where all agricultural produce for export shall subject to tests to ensure that they meet international standards before being exported.
The MAAIF officially opened the new Endpoint Inspection area at the Entebbe International Airport on Tuesday, with an objective of achieving reinforced inspection of agricultural exports in the form of fresh-cut Flowers, Fruits, and Vegetables from Uganda.
During the tour of an additional Endpoint Inspection Centre at Entebbe Airport, Paul Mwambu, the Commissioner Crop Inspection at the MAAIF, hailed businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia for donating equipment that is being used to repackage produce from his Rosebud Flower farm and other horticultural farms in Uganda.
It should be noted that today, information regarding sanitary and phytosanitary standards is provided to exporters using online platforms, the National Agricultural Sector Portal, n Twitter, Facebook, and Association WhatsApp platforms, so that no farmer or exporter of agricultural produce has any excuses about the ignorance of the same.
This is because Section 23 of the Plant Protection and Health Act, 2015, mandates inspectors to direct shipment or otherwise dispose of any plant or plant products, harmful organism, beneficial organism, soil, packaging or other such items to which the Act applies if it doesn’t meet requisite international standards.
The same Section also mandates inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to conduct pest surveillance and pest risk analysis for the purposes of quarantine, documentation and provision of information.
According to the Section, an Endpoint Inspection Area is one where the final inspection of the agricultural exports is undertaken. The first phase of inspection and audit is undertaken at farm level, the second at Packhouse level and the third on the vehicles.
As such, the MAAIF set up the Department of Crop Inspection and Certification, which comprises of Inspectors who are already on the ground to handle the consignments that go through the Endpoint Inspection Area at Entebbe Airport. This year, 20 new inspectors, mainly youth and women have been recruited by the Ministry.
The new Endpoint Inspection Area at the airport was set up through collaboration with the private sector, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda, and the World Trade Organization through the Standards and Trade Development Facility.
According to Mr. Mwambu, the Commissioner for Crop Inspection and Certification, this new Endpoint Inspection Area will further increase the competitiveness of agricultural exports from Uganda in markets abroad.
“Since the institution of the Department in 2014, we have made progress in improving compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards which is reducing interceptions in markets abroad,” Mr. Mwambu noted.
“This additional Endpoint Inspection Area was set up in accordance with Section 24 of the Plant Protection and Health Act 2015 which allows for provision of suitable areas for office, inspection and destruction facilities at harbors and airports among other areas,” he added that.
How It Works
Mwambu revealed that prior to being checked using the high-tech machines like microscopes, the products are checked for any visible signs of crop pests by Crop Inspection and Certification experts. The agricultural produce currently up for inspection include; fresh cut flowers, fruits and vegetables.
“We are currently using secure ICT-enabled approaches. On the 22nd of July this year we launched the e-phyto system which is an electronic system for issuance of phytosanitary certificates,” Mwambu revealed.
The initiative is being undertaken as a collaboration between the government of Uganda, international community and the private sector.
During the inspection of the new Endpoint Inspection Area, the Private Sector was represented by Management Teams of member companies of the Uganda Flower Exporters Association.
Rosebud Limited was represented by Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, who also handed over repackaging machines in contribution to the Endpoint Inspection Area.
Repackaging Machines are used to close packages that are opened for checking in the Endpoint Inspection Area and conform to the required international standards.
In his remarks, Sudhir, who hailed the MAAIF for such an initiative, said;
“As exporters, we are organized in our Associations where we make sure that everyone complies with the regulations and standards. We welcome these steps taken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as our regulator,”