Farmers Worried as China Tightens COVID-19 Measures on Fresh Imports

The declining quality is also very evident in the physical structure of animals especially in eastern Uganda, where, one respondent said "a cow can be mistaken for a big goat".

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China's move to demand for a COVID-19 negative tests on Uganda's fresh exports, has raised fears that Uganda's export market will further shrink, unless government intervenes.

Earlier in the month, the State Council of China said it will either return or destroy fresh products which fail a test at the border.

Now, China has written to the Ugandan government notifying it that imports from Uganda will be required to have a certificate both on the package and the content.

This comes as the country is developing measures to respond to persistent complaints especially from Europe and Kenya over the quality of Uganda's products. Quality concerns include pests and diseases, traces of chemicals and dirt among others.

Muhamood Hudda, Chairman of the Agricultural Value Addition Technical Working Committee on the Presidential Investor's Round Table says China's move is a call on Ugandans and the government to change their attitude towards the sector.

Hudda, also the managing director of Mairye Estates, a flower farm company, expressed concern that despite government's investment in the agriculture sector, the return on the investment is almost zero, unlike in the neighbouring countries.

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He was speaking at the 4th National Competitive Forum with the theme; Strengthening Evidence Based Private Sector Development Interventions.

It focused on the need to strengthen the drive towards increased exports agricultural, a sector which is facing long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The managing director at Nakifuma Farm Company Ltd, John Magnay challenged government on strict regulation of standards especially in the grain industry, saying it has a spill over effect to to animal industry.

The Kenyan market usually rejects Ugandan grain due to failure by the grain industry to protect grain from aflatoxin, a poisonous mould that contaminates grain.

Magnay says that the worst part is that grain that is too bad for human consumption is given to animals as feed, which is more dangerous.

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Dr. Madina Guloba, a research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre released findings that show that the quality of Uganda's livestock industry is falling despite an increase in stocks.

Beef production has increased over the last decade but both beef and milk per animal has either declined or stagnated.

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The declining quality is also very evident in the physical structure of animals especially in eastern Uganda, where one respondent said "a cow can be mistaken for a big goat".

A veteran livestock farmer, John Kamugisha Ruhombe attributes the trend to the misuse of inputs especially chemicals, that has led to a resistance to treatment of pests and diseases. But he also calls for regulations that protect farmers from exploitation saying for example, that milk should not be priced per litre, but per fat content.

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