The proposal has been made by grain dealers and millers in Masaka, so the standards body rolls down its operations to farmers other than focusing on the processors who join the food production chain as second and third-party players.
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS has been challenged
to adjust its style of operation to target farmers in its pursuit of ensuring the quality
supply of food on the market.
The proposal has been made by the dealers and operators of grains
milling factories in Masaka region, who want the standards body rolls down its
operations to farmers other than focusing on the processors who usually join the
food production chain as second and third-party players.
Mariam Namaganda, the Director of Bukomansimbi Grain Milling factory,
faults UNBS operations teams for not paying attention to the primary producers
of the grains; the farmers, yet they make a bigger contribution to the quality
of the final product on the market.
She argues that the millers and operators of food stores have
usually been indicted and penalized for violating the standards of food products
such as flour and other farm produce, yet the quality was compromised by farmers
at the post-harvest handling stages.
Nalubega explains that
some grains are obtained from framers after they are contaminated with molds
and other impurities, which contribute to high levels of aflatoxins hence affecting
the quality of products.
Charles Mukiinwa, the manager at SK Millers in Bukomansimbi
town council prefers that UNBS concentrates much of its effort on sensitizing
farmers on proper post-harvesting practices, other than stopping at the certification
of processors, who largely receive grains as raw materials.
He has challenged UNBS to work out programs of directly engaging
farmers on produce quality management; for purposes of ensuring holistic participation
in standards creation throughout the whole food production chain.
in: “omutindo ogw’osokera….//
out: ….mu ba Kasooli bano.”//
Edward Bunwabugali, Proprietor of Kitasibwa Milling Factory
in Bukomansimbi district, says that apparently, the public is also ignorant about
the acceptable quality standards of food as required by UNBS, which creates a
variation depending on the preferences and interpretations of different people.
According to him, unless the standards body gets interested in
what happens at every stage of the food production chain and guides
appropriately, the quality of food on the market may not improve as required.
But Syliva Kirabo, the UNBS Spokesperson argues that they are
not directly charged with sensitization of farmers on ensuring the quality of their
produces, saying this is the role of agricultural extension staff and local
government structures that have probably abdicated their responsibilities.
As a remedy, she advises the millers to desist from receiving
low-quality grains from the farmers, which she says will by default compel
them to improve their post-harvest standards to attract the market.
in: “it is your role….//
in: “singa oba osazeewo….//
out: ….ekintu ekirungi.”//
Notably, in March 2021, the Kenya Agricultural and Food
Authority-AFA banned maize exports from Uganda due to food safety concerns
after the grains were found to contain unacceptable high levels of aflatoxins;
which are known cancer-causing substances. Despite the lifting of the ban, the
grains are being subjected to serious scrutiny to ensure they are not dangerous to