SEATINI asks government to fix standard management system

By Patricia Osman

Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) is calling for a streamlined system at all Uganda border points to check the quality of all goods being imported and those exported.

The Executive Director SEATINI, a non governmental organisation that works on trade,fiscal and development related issues in the EAC region and the African continent at large, Jane Naluga says that the recent ban on Uganda maize in Kenya was mainly due to standards, an issue that has been under looked for a long time adding that the maize should have been checked on the side of Uganda before heading out.

Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi (molds) that are found naturally and can contaminate food crops but also pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock. Food crops can become contaminated both before and after harvesting

Kenya shook the region when it banned maize from Uganda and Tanzania due to aflatoxins, however after days of meetings and consultations the ban was lifted with tough guidelines to be followed by stakeholders. One must have a certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels of each consignment imported with clear details of where the maize was stored and that all parties dealing in maize imports would have to be registered among others requirements.

“Even though Kenya lifted the ban that shouldn’t stop us from addressing the issue of standards and I think we should take this seriously we need to ensure that not only our maize but all our products are produced to the required standard,” says Naluga.

She adds that this can only be done if the government fully financially supports the standards body The Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Ministry of trade and that of agriculture to work closely to ensure that standards are adhered to right from the inputs to the consumer.

Naluga admits that yes Uganda could have come on the spot recently for importing bad maize to Kenya but so many fake and substandard goods are on the Ugandan market today, and wonders what the government is doing about it.

Mabirizi Challenges Kenya’s ban on importation of Ugandan maize

By Sania Babirye

City lawyer Male Mabirizi has challenged the two decision by Kenyan government to ban Uganda’s maize, eggs and Chicken also from Tanzania calling it a violation of the East African Common Market Protocol that guarantees for free movement of goods and services in it’s partner states.

On the 14th of January 2020 in a memo,Kenya banned Chicken and eggs from Tanzania which Mabirizi says was unchallenged and on the 5th of March, the Kenya food and agriculture Authority banned the importation of Maize from Uganda on grounds that Maize from the two countries contains a dangerous chemical aflatoxins.

Mabirizi says that despite Kenya claiming that the said ban is aimed at helping its farmers and producers recover from COVID-19, its actions contravenes the East African Treaty but mainly the East African common Market Protocol especially Article 2 and 3 which requires partner states to treat goods from each partner state as not imports but just same commodities and free movement of goods and services.

He says that Kenya’s banning of Ugandan Maize with immediate effect denies Uganda a chance to fair hearing which contravenes article 6 and 7 of the East African Treaty because it denies Uganda a chance to challenge the said decision.

He adds that Kenya as a member of the East African common Market cannot just ban goods from its sister countries for whatever reason.

Mabirizi further claims that he has done research which shows that all Maize contains aflatoxins due to poor storage but the problem is in the levels.

He further claims that Kenya’s maize contains high levels of aflatoxins than maize from other countries and that Kenya has no right to ban the importation of Maize with less aflatoxins from other countries.

He is accusing Kenya of making a blanket order since its maize also contains aflatoxins and that if Kenya wanted to stop any contaminated Maize from being imported into Kenya,then it should have tested each consignment instead of banning all maize.

He wants the regional court to declare Kenya’s two decisions illegal and immediately stayed.

Kenyan maintains that its aim is to preserve food safety and that it will not compromise its people in anyway.

Maize production increases Uganda’s export earnings

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Over the years, commercial production of maize has increased and contributed partially to increased adoption of improved maize varieties by farmers provided by NAADS and other partners.

Whereas maize is predominantly a staple food crop, it is also an important cash crop contributing to household incomes and national export earnings.

Maize production statistics based on district returns to UBOS show a steady increase overtime from 1.17 million Metric Tonnes in 2001 to about 2.55 million Metric Tonnes in 2011 and above 4 million Metric tones inn 2018.

Following the significant increase in maize production, there was an outcry of lack of market from the farmer.

This prompted the government through NAADS to provide simple milling facilities at rural level. NAADS has strategically considered supporting farmers with maize milling facilities to take care of the value addition needs at rural level.
NAADS distributes milling equipment to farmers as one of the initiatives to reduce post-harvest losses as well bring value addition facilities closer to the farming households for improvement of livelihoods and rural incomes.

Apart from offering a quick market to the farmers, the milling equipment provides value addition solutions to the farmers and ultimately increases their incomes.

To date, NAADS has distributed 105 maize mills to farmers organized in farmer groups/organizations or associations/ cooperative societies.

One of the beneficiary associations is Kigumba Produce Buyers and millers’ association in Kiryandongo district.

The secretary to the association Daniel Baliddawa says with the mill they received from NAADS, they have managed to acquire land where they are to construct their permanent home, they have made some savings from which they give small loans to the members

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.