Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says it is prudent for the government to have the standards issue handled at a go and comprehensively, instead of tackling is sector by sector or stage by stage of the value chain.
He has also vowed to periodically publish the certified seed companies starting this month, and also the chemical inputs that are considered dangerous.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries has
started certifying seed companies in a bid to address the poor quality in grain
and other cereals, particularly aflatoxin.
The certified companies will have to undergo all standard and
quality assurance measures set by the ministry including the production process
of the seeds, the premises and handling as well as packaging.
Among other measures, the packages will also have to meet
standards and will be labelled and marked with un-deletable material to also
ensure that the labels can undergo harsh conditions without fading. The
seed companies will also be expected to use hermetic bags.
These are storage bags that are made from materials that cannot
allow moisture or weevils, irrespective of the conditions or length of
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries says
that aflatoxins have been found to develop under different conditions and at
each stage of the value chain, including seed processing and storage, planting,
harvesting grain storage as well as flour.
Uganda’s grain has over the years faced sanctions by the export
market in East Africa, as well as the UN World Food Organisation, over
But other foodstuffs, including fresh foods also usually meet
standards issues in the European market, especially pests and traces of
Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says it is prudent for the
government to have the standards issue comprehensively, instead of tackling it
sector by sector or stage by stage of the value chain. He has also vowed
to periodically publish the certified seed companies starting this month, and
also the chemical inputs that are considered dangerous.
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Ssempijja also explains that the government has decided to distribute
post-harvest handling materials to farmers including storage facilities at the community
level since individual smallholder farmers may not afford them.
In some areas, however, including in Masindi, farmers have
complained that the companies that are given the contracts to manage community
facilities end up starting farms and in the end, the small farmers are suffocated
out of the business.
Ssempijja says in the West and the Central parts of the country,
the farmers are moving faster in adopting best practices like using tarpaulins
for drying their grain.
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He also reiterated the lack of checks in the East African Common Market
protocol which allows the free movement of goods, services and persons across
This has seen traders freely enter Uganda and contact farmers
directly for produce. Because of this, the farmers are attracted by quick
money and they harvest the grain that is not yet dry or they artificially dry
it by spraying the crop with herbicides, greatly affecting the quality of the
It also difficult to tell how safe and free of moisture the bags
used by the traders and farmers at the farm are, and this cannot guarantee that
that grain will not develop moulds during transportation, and in turn get infected
Ssempijja says the companies that are under The Grain Council of
Uganda have been certified to export grain to Kenya.