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.