By our Reporters
Following the recent tough action by the Kenyan government to block importation of maize grain containing high levels of aflatoxin, Uganda is taking steps to address the problem, starting from the grassroots farmers’ level.
Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade, the National Planning Authority-NPA, Uganda National Bureau of Standards- UNBS, Operation Wealth Creation-OWC and National Agricultural Advisory Services-NAADS on Thursday kicked off a dialogue and brainstorming in Kampala to drastically improve the quality and standard of Uganda’s grain.
The meeting, chaired by the State Minister for Economic Monitoring, Molly Kamukama, was held at the office of the President.
It was unanimously agreed that government uses extension workers to sensitize farmers on better farming practices from planting, pest management, harvesting and storage, and also to use the media to spread the relevant information.
It was also resolved to construct more silos with dryers and cleaners across the country, as most of contamination occurs at harvest and storage stages.
Uganda produces over five million metric tons of maize, but according to the Executive Director of NAADS Dr. Samuel Mugasi, its storage capacity is for only one million metric tons.
He disclosed plans by government to register and license maize traders so that only those who fulfill certain minimum conditions are allowed to trade in maize.
It was also resolved to fast track the commercialization of the Aflasafe seed which is said to be a safe and effective natural product management aflatoxin in maize, sorghum, and groundnut value chains.
Aflasafe seed is produced by the National Agricultural Research Organisation-NARO and has been submitted for approval to the World Food Organisation.
Minister Kamukama tasked Commissioner Mwambu to draw a clear implementation plan for deploying the extension workers and the parish model of government to deliver the message to the people.
The team will meet again soon with each member presenting an elaborate paper on how they shall help address the challenge at hand.
The Country Director of World Food Program El-Khidir Daloum says Uganda needs to strengthen its system to improve monitoring, sensitise the public about better farming and harvesting practices and also engage the private sector including traders and factory owners.
State Minister for Trade Michael Werikhe Kafabusa said Uganda and Kenya have agreed to a joint monitoring mechanism moving forward.
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