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C-MRF launched by COMESA to improve grain trade

The COMESA Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF) has been launched to facilitate grain trade between COMESA nations

The goal of the C-MRF, launched in Uganda last week, is to establish common grading criteria for maize, enable proficiency testing for aflatoxin analysis and risk-based sampling protocol.

The roadmap will provide analytical results and recognise analysis certificates issued by labs of participating countries, mitigating the needfor multiple testing.

C-MRF has been developed in partnership with six countries that have a significant share in maize trade – Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

COMESA director of agriculture and industry Thierry Mutombo Kalonji said the lack of mutual recognition of technical standards and conformity assessment (testing and certification) was a persistent non-tariff barrier. Regulatory barriers, sometimes, are a result of varied technical capacities in the public and private sector entities in the region, he added. However, this comes at a high cost to traders, contributing to informal trade that now stands at 80 per cent in some nations.

In addition, there is disparity between countries with enhanced food systems and those with weak ones, making it harder for staple food items to cross borders.

The C-MRF will be a central instrument in driving deeper levels of regulatory policy coordination and integration between COMESA countries. It will facilitate seamless trans-regional market. The goals of the C-MRF will be implemented through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for conformity assessment.