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Most countries have developed national standards for their main grain crops. These have evolved to facilitate the movement of grain, providing both sellers and purchasers with guidelines to support financial transactions, and ensuring that quality will meet up with enduse requirements.

Where trading involves direct choice and price negotiation in front of the commodity, grading standards are rarely employed; quality is assessed visually and is influenced by enduse, and the price is determined more by local rather than national factors. For transactions that involve the movement of large volumes of grain over long distances, the buyer may never meet the seller or be able to examine the whole consignment. The standard will provide an unambiguous description of the quality of the consignment and assist in the formation of a legally-binding contract. Standards can also be seen to protect consumers rights through setting limits to the amount of unsuitable or noxious material.

The use of grading standards can send a clear indication of quality requirements to both producer and end-user. Although some countries have sought to support small farmers through purchase of all grain at the same price without regard to quality: under these circumstances grading standards cease to be operative by default. This may stimulate productivity but creates problems for end-users such as millers who require uniformity and consistency in quality to ensure efficient and cost-effective processing.

Whilst establishment of standards can set the guide-lines and rules for sale and purchase of grains, there has to be an institutional framework for their implementation. This is much easier to establish at centres of aggregation of grain e.g. ports, parastatal grain depots, than in the more diffuse rural areas and markets, where control and supervision of regulations is difficult.

Notwithstanding these problems, the establishment of quality and grading standards for producers and users can be beneficial in the following ways:

However, the use of standards can have its disadvantages, namely:

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