Agro-industrialization is one of the key drivers of Uganda’s economic development through promoting exports, employment, and incomes from both domestic markets and foreign exchange (Uganda National Development Plan III: 2020/21 – 2024/25).
Export quality and standard is critical in this process and it partly depends on the quality of agro-inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. Inputs and product testing should therefore be an ongoing action throughout the product cycle. At planting, seeds are tested for germinability, resilience to diseases and pests while at harvest and post-harvest stage, testing is done to assure quality of the product and compliance with internationally recognized standards hence acceptability and competitiveness on the world market.
Chemiphar implements a “standards” project:
Chemiphar Uganda, the aBi’s partner in quality assurance and certification, is complementing government in raising awareness on standards and rallying value chain actors mainly under agriculture and agribusiness to embrace and adopt standards. For the past two and a half years, Chemiphar with funding from aBi, has been implementing a project titled; “enhancing the analytical capacity of Chemiphar to facilitate food safety, quality and compliance with internationally accepted standards.” Through this project, Chemiphar’s capacity and that of value chain actors in agribusiness has been strengthened, awareness raised and product testing embraced.
In collaboration with other stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Uganda Export Promotion Board, (UEPB), East Africa Grain Council (EADC) among others, Chemiphar undertakes awareness campaigns, training for farmers, seed companies, exporters, and product testing for both quantity and quality assurance.
Annick Uytterhaegen, the CEO – Chemiphar Uganda, said that with aBi’s funding, Chemiphar has improved her institutional and technical capacity as well as infrastructure.
Chemiphar has been able to recruit technical experts in testing, acquire modern laboratory equipment and quality reagents leading to efficiency. The turnaround time has drastically reduced (by 30% compared with 70% in 2017). There has been a 48 percent increase in test service uptake by seed companies and exporters and, Chemiphar’s accredited parameters have also increased from 53 to 68.
Annick revealed this during a meeting between Chemiphar, aBi and the Royal Danish Embassy (RDE), on 4th May 2021 at Chemiphar offices in Kampala.
She appreciated RDE and aBi for the support adding that the company would not have been able to acquire the high-tech equipment had it not been for the grant from aBi.
Through this partnership, Chemiphar has created additional jobs for laboratory technicians (4) as well as for beneficiaries (20).
Further, training was conducted for 53 agricultural value chain actors representing; farmers, Quality controllers, cereal/grain traders, Agro-input dealers, and export companies. Focus areas for the training were, Good Agronomical Practices (GAPs), Seed quality standards, Post-Harvest Handling (PHH) methods, grain grading, export standards, horticultural product handling and cold chain management. Emphasis was placed on the need to test products prior to export for competitiveness, higher value and income for the exporters and, in general, increasing foreign exchange earnings for Uganda as a country.
aBi commends Chemiphar:
Sarah Walusimbi, the Chairperson aBi Board, thanked Chemiphar for the good work and partnership with aBi (since 13th December 2018) saying it greatly contributes to aBi vision of; ‘a competitive and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness sector in support of equitable wealth creation in Uganda.’ She said the investment would enable both public and private sector agribusiness actors access testing services to improve product quality and food safety.
Chemiphar Uganda is an internationally accredited private company, analytical laboratory and inspection company founded in 1998 to boost the testing and calibration of agro inputs with an aim of ensuring quality exports especially for the European market. It is internationally accredited under; ISO 17025 (for testing), ISO 17020 (for inspections), ISTA for seed sampling and testing for; foods and beverages, soil, water, environment, agro-products, grains and pulses, and cosmetics. Chemiphar has got expertise in carrying out tests for coffee, vanilla, pulses, cereals, horticultural products, dairy, honey among others.
Chemiphar’s successes are not without challenges.
Like many other companies, Chemiphar’s internal operations were destabilised by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural exports which negatively affected her clientele.