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What Are Standards

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by admin

What are Standards?

Standards are published documents that set out guidelines that ensure the reliability of the products and services people use every day.

Standards address a range of issues, including but not limited to procedures that help ensure products always serve a useful purpose and support consumer safety and public health.

Why are they Important?

Standards and the certification systems sitting behind them, whether public or private, are a means of assuring buyers that a product on sale is of desirable quality, is safe, and that the process used to produce it conforms to the acceptable norms. Therefore, quality aspects can be related to either the product itself or the process by which it was produced.

Since buyers and consumers cannot easily judge certain quality aspects of products or its production processes, certification is undertaken by a reputable organization that can be either public or private. Such certification (and related labeling of certified products) offers verification or a “burden of proof” that given standards have been complied with. Products and services that have been certified in such a way can be traded in international markets.

Another key benefit of standards is the certified products can be graded. The different grades of a specific certified product will facilitate price determination and thus assist in defining contracts for delivery in international markets. Such a system improves the efficiency of markets and helps make them more transparent. Grading and labelling also serves to differentiate and segment the market into niches, providing a valuable impetus to the development of quality. It also contributes to the development of markets by distinguishing superior quality traits and rewarding them with higher prices.

Do we have Standards in Somaliland?

Somaliland is arguably the worlds’ leading exporter of live animals. However, it has poorly developed crop sector and a modest manufacturing sector, all which have contributed to an imports driven commerce sector. The development of standards varies widely in each of these sectors, and can be summarized as follows:

  • There are no homegrown standards against which imported goods (food, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, veterinary products, etc) can be judged. Although the Standard Quality Control Commission (SQCC) has adopted some regional standards to fill this gap (especially for pharmaceuticals), it still lacks the capacity to enforce the same.

  • The government has not developed standards to guide locally manufactured goods from the nascent manufacturing sector. However, each manufacturer has adopted own standards, although there is no local certification against such standards. Besides, some manufacturers have sought certification from international agencies (i.e. the recently commissioned franchised coca cola plant).

  • In the livestock sector, stakeholders in the local industry have taken bold steps to develop process standards covering some segments of the value chain. They include:

    • The National Veterinary Code:is a code of practice for animal health workers. The code is designed to meet the conditions set out by the OIE – Office Internazionale des Epizootique (World Organisation for Animal Health) before engaging in international trade. This code, among other things stipulates guidelines to be adhered to in livestock healthcare starting from the farm to the point of final sale for local and export markets. This code is part of the laws of Somaliland.

    • The National Animal Welfare Code: is a code of practice for all the livestock value chain actors that give guidelines on care and handling of animals from point of first sale to point of last sale within the value chain in Somaliland. The code is aimed at ensuring the comfort and safety of animals in order to preserve their quality. This code of practice has been published and is use. It’s however awaiting parliamentary approval to become one of the laws of Somaliland.

Besides the two sets of process standards, traders of export quality livestock are operating an informal product standard system for export quality live animals (cattle, sheep, goats, and camels) and hides and skins. Publication of these standards will be the first step towards labeling of all export quality livestock thereby rewarding quality.

Quarantine Stations and certifications system spurs export trade

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by admin

Quarantine Stations and certifications system spurs export trade.

Exports of livestock from Berbera have grown by more than 100%. following construction and commissioning of two new quarantine stations and full embracing of livestock certification system.

How the quarantine stations came about

Towards the end of 2000, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) imposed an import ban on all livestock and livestock products from Somaliland. The other countries in the Gulf, namely Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen, followed suit immediately thereafter. This ban followed another import ban imposed in 1998 and 1999. Both bans were in response to the health risks related to the epizootic Rift Valley Fever (RVF) disease found in northern Kenya and southern Somalia. During the RVF outbreak in 2000, the disease spread to southwest Saudi Arabia, resulting in over 30 human fatalities.

In mid2001, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Yemen lifted the ban on live animal imports which offered some respite to Somaliland livestock producers and traders. However, the embargo by Saudi Arabia was not lifted, and it continued to have major implications on trade as Saudi Arabia comprised about 95 percent of the export market share and offered better prices to traders. The Saudi blockade continued until September 2009, leading to fluctuations in livestock export volumes, reduction in foreign exchange inflows and weakening of the Somaliland shilling, among others.

In response to the negative impacts caused by the continued import ban by the KSA, Somaliland livestock traders partnering with foreign investors made significant investments in quarantine stations in the Red Sea Port of Berbera as a precondition for lifting the ban imposed by the Saudi authorities. The first station started operations in September 2009. This station is owned and operated by the Saudi-Emirates International Veterinary Quarantine Management Company (SEIVQMC).

The second station was opened a year later in October 2010. This facility is a joint venture between Indha-Dheero Group Companies and businessman Mohammed Qaid Sa’eed (also known as Abu Yasser) and has the capacity to house 250,000 small livestock.

International standards certification implemented in the quarantine stations

In these Quarantine stations, the specific importing country requirements are followed during vaccination of animals and testing for specific diseases. Serological tests are carried out in the stations well-equipped laboratories by well qualified and trained laboratory staff.

Sharp rise in livestock export realized

The internationally accepted certification system set up within the quarantine stations has led to rapid increase in the number of livestock exported through Berbera from just above 1.6 million in 2009 to about 2.58 million in 2010 and 3.37 million in 2011. Exports in 2012 are promising. In the first five months of 2012, total number of animals exported is just above 770,000 heads, representing a 33% and 26% increase during the same period in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

It is expected that the investment in quarantine stations will not only expand, but stabilize Somaliland livestock exports. The tidings will even be better with the opening of the third quarantine station being constructed by the SEIVQMC. This new quarantine is expected to be able to hold more than 1.5 million heads of livestock.

What next?

The onus will now lie with the exporters and the Chambers of Commerce to diversify the export market for Somaliland livestock that is now restricted to the Middle East countries that comprise of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Potential markets include those in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Embracing standards in Somaliland livestock export trade

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by admin

Towards developing standards in livestock and livestock products export trade.

embracingThe Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA). and the Somaliland Quality Control Commission (SQCC) with expert support from the Kenya Bureau Standards (KEBS), technical assistance from Terra Nuova and financial support from the Royal Danish Embassy in Nairobi have embarked on the process of developing standards for livestock and livestock products exported from Somaliland.

It is expected that within a period of three years starting June 2012, three broad groups of standards as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will be developed. The standards will cover live animals (cattle, sheep, goats and camels) and livestock products (hides and skins).

Types of standards to be developed

Three types of standards will be developed, namely:

  1. Product standards for live animals, hides and skins: These are the standards that will define the technical specifications for the different types of grades of live animals, hides and skins exported from Somaliland.

  1. Process standards. These will be the standardscomprising recommendations for accepted good practice (Codes of Practice) to be followed by traders and other market actors between the source market and the port of exit.

  2. Management systems. These will be standards that will assist selected industry players along the market chain to run their operations and create a framework within which the requirements of product and process standards will be consistently met. These management systems are often referred to as meta-standards; with an example being the ISO 9000 series of quality standards. The players to be initially targeted will be the quarantine stations. Even though these types of standards may not be attained within the three-year period, sufficient ground will be set for accomplishment in the medium term.

Regulatory framework to support the developed standards

The SLCCIA acknowledges that currently, there is no regulatory framework in which to anchor the standards that are to be developed. Therefore, the SLCCIA will work closely with the SQCC, the Ministries of Livestock and Commerce, the KEBS and Terra Nuova in order to develop a regulatory framework that will provide for auditing, oversight and enforcement of the developed standards. Even though the enactment of the developed framework into a Standards Act of Parliament to entrench the establishment of the SQCC into law is not foreseen in the next three years, sufficient awareness will be created that will lay the foundation for recognition of the SQCC by the International Standardization Organization (ISO).

 

Animal welfare improved in Somaliland livestock trade

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by admin No Comments

There has been tremendous improvement in animal welfare along the livestock marketing value chain. in Somaliland in compliance with international trade requirements. This has resulted from a number of factors that include: the embracing of animal welfare policies by government organs; increased awareness of the importance of animal welfare by industry players; and provision of infrastructure supportive of appropriate animal welfare practices.

Policy Changes and Increased Awareness of Animal Welfare Issues

A series of capacity building initiatives by several organisations under the auspices of the Somali Animal Health Services Project (SAHSP) has led to increased awareness of animal welfare in the livestock industry and to policy change within the government demonstrated by embracing the Somaliland Animal Welfare Code that is currently before parliament for enactment.

Infrastructure supporting proper animal welfare practices

Close partnership between the Somali veterinary authorities and local authorities, Somali private sector actors, AU-IBAR and Terra Nuova with funding from the European Union has led to significant increase in the number of infrastructure supportive to proper animal welfare practices. These facilities have encompassed:

  • Sheds and watering points for livestock – these have contributed to preventing dehydration and heat stress of animals while at sale yards in main market centres.

  • Vaccination crush pens and loading and unloading ramps – these have limited stressful handling, bruising, abrasions and other injuries caused to livestock during vaccination, tagging, loading and unloading of animals en-route to the ports of exit.

These facilities have been put up in a number of key livestock markets along the livestock marketing value chain in Somaliland. They include Nine (9) loading/unloading ramps for sheep and goats; four (4) loading ramps for cattle; 4 unloading ramps for cattle; 4 unloading ramps for sheep and goats; two (2) cattle vaccination crushes; twenty eight (28) sheds and one (1) livestock watering system. The infrastructures were built in eight (8) markets namely: Hargeisa, Burao, Tog Wajaale, Gabiley (Jameeco), Borama, Las Anod, Erigavo and Berbera. Six (6) existing sheds were also rehabilitated in the Hargeisa livestock market.