Family admitted in hospital after eating poisoned cassava flour

One person has died and seven others are admitted in Busia district for suspected food poisoning. The poison victims are family members and residents of Nangudi village, Busitema parish Busitema Sub-County in Busia district.

The deceased has been identified as one and half-year-old Ronald Makokha. Those admitted at Busia Health Center IV include Teddy Nabwire, Bernard Makokha, Ronald Wandera, Sylvia Nanjala, Beatrice Balibawa, Scovia Erumbi, and Iren Gloria Irene.

Dr. Yusuf Lule, the In-charge Busia Health Centre IV, says the victims were rushed to the health center on suspicion that they ate food laced with poison.

Ronald Wandera, one of the victims and head of the family, says he bought 10 kilograms of dry cassava at Namungodi trading center on Tuesday. According to Wandera, he took the cassava for grinding and used the flour to prepare supper for his family.

He says the children started complaining of stomach pain at around 12am before the minor succumbed died at 2am.

Christine Auma, the mother of the children, suspects the problem could have started from the cassava flour.

The incident has raised fear among residents. Charles Ndeke, a resident of Bulumbi Sub County, says they are now afraid of buying food from market.

A similar case was reported in Busiro Sub County in Namayingo district where one person died after eating cassava flour he bought from a store



Matooke, a big part of Uganda’s culinary celebration

By Annah Nafula

There is a common joke about the baganda is;a muganda will out rightly say a meal without matooke is not food it doesnt matter how heavy.

That explains the value attached to matooke in most  western, central and eastern parts of Uganda. The food is highly celebratory as it is served at all special functions in these parts of the country.

In the past owning a huge plantation of matooke was prestigious and equally amounted to being wealthy. Having and maintaining this annual crop takes some real attention.

The tasteless berry is commonly peeled, wrapped in banana leaves, smashed and simmered; usually enjoyed with stews commonly groundnut stew.

There are different types of matooke preparation  and the common ones include;


Katogo is a mixture of foods and ingredients to create just one dish. The most common katogo served in Ugandan restaurants and homes is the matooke and tripe/meat/gnuts/beans. In this, vegetables and spices are added. The scrumptious dish is usually served for breakfast across the country.


Steamed Matooke;

Steamed matooke is usually cooked at ceremonies and usual family meals. The intricacy in preparing this particular type of matooke is what makes it a distinct dish. The matooke is carefully peeled, washed, wrapped carefully in banana leaves, smashed and simmered. The longer the dish is simmered on low heat the better. The ready matooke is usually enjoyed with stews like beef, groundnut, beans, peas depending on what is available.

Roasted matooke/mpogola;

This is a common meal at Uganda berbeques. The roasted matooke is usually raosted alongside meats. It is a meal usually enjoyed with roasted beef, pork, chicken usually topped with a very nice well seasoned kacumbari or avocado.

Banana cake;

Ripe matooke is usually very sweet and can be perfect for use in a banana cake. The aroma of this cake is as irresistible.



Premier Rugunda announces government plan to send food supplies to schools across the country

Government plans to supply food to schools across the country due to a shortage triggered by a prolonged dry spell, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said.

Rugunda told parliament last evening that food will be provided through the District Education Committees in all the 116 districts. The committees will then determine the schools that need urgent relief noting that severe food shortages have impacted on school attendance.

Rugunda added that the matter will further be discussed at a Cabinet meeting today.

The commitment followed a passionate and heated debate on an action plan to mitigate the food insecurity situation in the country. This was part of a joint statement presented by Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja and State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru.

Ecweru said that the most food insecure regions include Teso, Karamoja, Bukedi, the Cattle Corridor, Busoga, Lango, Acholi and parts of central Uganda. He said that these areas had started receiving relief food from the Office of the Prime Minister.

He added that the food crisis situation had impacted severely on the attendance in schools especially in the rural government primary schools where children find it hard to go to school on empty stomach.

Ecweru told parliament that the current relief stocks stand at 30,000-100kgs bags of maize flour, 7000- 100kgs bags of beans and 119,660 50kgs bags of rice. He said the food items worth 22.2 billion Shillings were a donation from the government of China.

Ecweru told parliament that the Japanese government has pledged to support particularly the Karamoja Sub-region through the World Food Program towards feeding in schools.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said that bean seeds are scarce due to the drought and that government can only provide 600,000 kilograms worth 2.4 billion Shillings.

Members of parliament demanded for adequate funding to the agriculture sector.




Schools in Kampala not worried about escalating food prices and shortages

Schools in Kampala are downplaying fears of a possible food shortage arising out of a long dry spell that has driven food prices up in the recent past. A survey by Uganda Radio Network indicates that schools stocked enough food to feed pupils throughout the first term which started barely two weeks ago.

The assurance comes in the wake of a heavy burden to consumers resulting from the late and erratic rains and an early cessation of rainfall experienced last year. As several parts of the country battle abnormal dryness, gardens are all drying up with little prospects of rainfall, raising fears of a looming food shortage.

According to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin (FPMA) by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals have more than doubled in Uganda. Prices of beans, cassava and maize flour is about 25 per cent higher than a year ago.

A 50-kg bag of rice costs between 150,000 and 190,000 Shillings on the open market up from 120,000 Shillings around the same time last year. Maize flour costs 88,000 for each 50-kg bag while beans cost an average of 165,000 Shillings per bag. Sugar prices now average 178,000 for each 50-kg bag up from 160,000 Shillings.

Mario Zappacosta, a senior economist for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that sharply increasing prices are severely constraining food access for large numbers of households with alarming consequences in terms of food insecurity.

But despite the alarming trend, Peak Adventure, one of the companies that supply food to schools around Kampala says that school supplies many not be suddenly affected by change in market prices. Andrew Gidudu, a director at Peak Adventure says they have enough stocks to feed schools over the next three months.

Gidudu however anticipates that stocks could be depleted by May, 2017 which could trigger a change in prices then.

David Ssengendo, the head teacher of Buganda Road Primary School told URN that the school has not experienced the worst in the increase of food prices. He however says that there are indicators that prices will shoot up in the near future adding that in the event that prices increase, the school will be forced to ration food.

Pupils at Buganda Road Primary school contribute 21,900 Shillings each for school meals every term. However, according to the head teacher, the school runs a cash budget and can only stock food for a month.  Their menu comprises of posho, beans, rice, milk tea and porridge.

Edward Kanoonya, the head teacher of Kololo Secondary School believes that adjustments will be made to enable them provide enough food for students in the event that prices are hiked in the near future.

He says the adjustments could include omitting costly items from the menu. He highlighted rice; peas and meat which he says are served once in a while at the school.  Kololo SS consumes 350 Kgs of Posho and 150 Kgs of beans on a daily basis, according to Kanoonya.

But Lohana schools comprising of Lohana Academy, Lohana Primary and Lohana High School says that price changes will not in any way affect their menu and rations.

Catherine Nakayima, the in charge of procuring food for the three Lohana campuses told URN that the schools will be able to maintain their schools menus and portion due to supply agreements between the school and their suppliers.

On a weekly basis, the schools consume around 1000 Kgs of rice, 225 Kgs of beans, 100 pieces of fruit and 140 cabbages. According to Nakayima, their suppliers are mandated to supply them with food at the same price and quantity regardless of changes in price over a given period of time.



Poor produce due to drought causes hike in food prices

Food prices in some East African markets have almost doubled in the past 12 months because of an ongoing drought. The situation is posing a heavy burden to households and special risks for pastoralists in the region, according to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin (FPMA).

The bulletin by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals are near or at record levels in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and South Sudan.

In Uganda, the prices of beans, cassava and maize flour is about 25 per cent higher than a year ago in the capital city, Kampala. Beans now cost 40 per cent more in Kenya than a year earlier while maize prices are up by around 30 per cent, according to the bulletin.

In Tanzania, maize prices in Arusha, Tanzania, have almost doubled since early 2016 while in south Sudan food prices are now two to four times above their levels of a year earlier.

“Sharply increasing prices are severely constraining food access for large numbers of households with alarming consequences in terms of food insecurity,” Mario Zappacosta, a senior economist for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a news release.

Zappacosta says that Drought-affected pastoral areas in the region face even harsher conditions. . In Somalia, goat prices are up to 60 per cent lower than a year ago, while in pastoralist areas of Kenya the prices of goats declined by up to 30 per cent over the last 12 months.

He says that shortages of pasture and water caused livestock deaths and reduced body mass, prompting herders to sell animals while they can leaving them with even less income to purchase basic foodstuffs.. This has also pushed up the prices of milk.




Vacuum packing technology could have Ugandans abroad enjoy matooke

Demand for Matooke among Ugandans living in the diaspora remains. But how to get it there has been the issue. Also, ready bananas have a very short shelf-life limiting exports to Europe and America where a number of Ugandans live.

But one Ugandan food Scientist Dr. George William Byarugaba Bazirake has found solution that is already seeing Matooke follow Ugandans to the Diaspora.

Dr. Byarugaba has since 2009 been piloting on his pealed Vacuum-Sealed banana value addition innovation that is gaining popularity in the UK and U.S., which have large populations of Ugandans in the Diaspora and now Australia.

Through vacuum sealing, Dr. Byarugaba says the pealed bananas can now last up six months before they get spoilt. They are also easy to transport given each of the peeled banana finger is reduced by about 40% after pealing.

The bananas have got a big demand at restaurants and supermarkets in areas where Ugandans in the diaspora reside. Dr. Byarugaba says Karibu restaurant in Boston one of the top importers.

Bayraugaba says over one hundred metric tonnes of Matook had been exported to UK, US and Australia by end of last month.

The Vacuum- sealed Matooke has turned out as one of the success stories under the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development.

Under the project, bananas are purchased from farmer in Mbarara, pealed, then vacuum sealed ready for export.

The inferior fingers of the banana are ripened for processing into wine. Dr Byarugaba and his team also tested on the option of cook and tinning the bananas ready for eat but that has not materalised according to Byarugaba.

Byarugaba says he plans to market the product locally at supermarkets, hotels and schools.

Although Uganda produces 8.45 million tons of bananas annually and is second only to India in terms of production of the fruit worldwide, it is 40th in terms of the amount of bananas exported each year.

That’s because of the short shelf life of the fruit, and Uganda’s distance from markets in the developed world.




Quench that thirst with your home made taste elevated drinking water

It is extremely hot in Kampala lately and many of us would love to have a glass or more of water regulary. However there is also another group that just hates drinking water and are spending a little too much on unhealthy drinks like sodas. Today we bring you a few tricks you can use to improve the taste of water so as to go through this season, hydrated and healthy.

  1. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime (or both).
  2. Infusing water with fruit, fill a large jug with water, sliced fruit (try citrus, berries or melon) and ice; refrigerate overnight.
  3. Soak it in flavour, let pineapple chunks soak in water for at least two hours.
  4. Make a mash, mash up blueberries or raspberries in the bottom of your glass, then add sparkling or still water.
  5. Make a splash,pour in a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice.
  6. Cube Juice, make ice cubes out of no-sugar-added juice and add to sparkling or still water and cranberry juicewater.
  7. Mint it, tear up some fresh mint leaves and leave to steep in water before drinking.
  8. cuke it, add sliced cucumber for a refreshing zing.
  9. Add sparkle, make half the glass sparkling water, half the glass still water; it’s not as gassy as sparkling alone.
  10. spice it up, crush some basil leaves, add to water and leave overnight.
  11. Veg out, after boiling vegetables, such as carrots, reserve the water and chill overnight for a vitamin-packed blast of flavor.
  12. Pick and herb, Add an herbal tea bag like passion fruit; heat with lemon.

Prices of food stuffs increase ahead of Christmas celebrations

By Waswa Deo

As Christmas approaches,prices for food staffs have slightly increased in popular markets around Kampala due to increasing demand from communities.

In markets, Kalerwe, Lufula, Nakasero, Owino among others, prices in all these markets are not different.  A kilo of meat costs between 8500/= to 12,000/=, a bunch of banana costs, between 15.000/= to 40.000/=, chicken costs between 20.000 to 40.000/=,  a kilo of Rice is ranging between 2600 to 3600/= depending on different varieties.

However, the prices have not hindered shoppers from shopping.




Research reveals that Ugandans are the biggest Pork consumers in Africa

Ugandans’ raving appetite for pork makes them the biggest consumers of pork in Africa. This has been disclosed by Dr Ben Lukuyu, the Uganda Country Representative of the International Livestock Research Institute.

He was presenting research findings on sweet potato and production of silage from vines for growing pigs at the Roots, Tubers and Bananas end of project meeting in Entebbe, Wednesday. The research, conducted in Masaka and Kamuli districts, explored linkages between sweet potato production and growing of pigs for consumption and commerce.

Dr Lukuyu, an animal nutritionist, said the per capita consumption of pork in Uganda is 3.5 kilogrammes, making Uganda the biggest consumer of pork in Africa and second to China globally. He added that 1.1 million households keep pigs and 3.5 smallholder farmers directly depend on growing pigs, while millions others are employed in the value chain.

Dr Lukuyu said that while the pigs sub-sector is growing by leaps and bounds, it is facing a number of challenges like high cost of feeds, poor quality and quantity of feeds; hence the need to explore usage of potato vines.

He said although the growing of pigs and demand for pork is huge and growing, performance of Ugandan pigs in terms of weight gain and growth is relatively poor yet the potential of feeds is high.

Dr Lukuyu said the potato vines, key in making silage, are available locally at no cost from farms, homesteads, markets and hotels. He said there is an opportunity to exploit the wide availability of sweet potato vines, as well as other variety of feeds to boost piggery, adding that sweet potato vines offer better digestibility in pigs.

Dr Lukuyu added that the pig production industry is showing no sign of slowing down, hence the need to promote it.

Marsy Asindu, a student of Makerere University who was part of the research team, said market potential for silage from sweet potatoes is huge because so much waste is generated from the crop.

Asindu said in the research areas of Masaka and Kamuli they found out that the market for silage from sweet potato vines is eight billion Shillings and three billion Shillings respectively. Nationally, Asindu says that the market potential for silage made from sweet potato vines is 11 billion Shillings.

Uganda Investment Authority Investment Executive, Yvonne Munabi, said such sweet potato vines silage innovation should translate into lower prices for consumers instead of the reverse.

A kilo of pork presently goes for 10,000 Shillings, way too expensive for many Ugandans.

Uganda is the biggest producer of sweet potatoes in Africa, with most farming households actually producing the crop. The sweet potato is literally grown throughout Uganda including in arid Karamoja.




Behold the Nsenene season is upon us

It is that time of the month when grasshoppers commonly known as Nsenene are flying around by are also abundant in our markets. Well, a few people think they are creepy while others find them so delicious.

“Most commonly found and consumed in areas with grasslands, the writers of the U.N. report maintain that the critters are simple to cook, and especially tasty when roasted and seasoned with onion, garlic, chili or soy sauce. Their nutritional content makes them a hearty snack or addition to most meals.”writes Alexander Sifferlin  in Times.

Prepping these insects is a tedious job which prompts many sellers to sell them cook them with wings and legs on so the consumer does that for themselves.

These insects are actually very healthy and nutritious so when next you have a bowl this what you will be having;

Protein: 20.6 %

Fat: 6.1 %

Carbohydrates: 3.9 %

So when next you have you have your scrumptious bugs, have them with no guilt.