The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has cautioned agro-processors in Bunyoro sub-region to adhere to quality food standards.
Ronald Ahimbisibwe, the head of small and medium enterprises at UNBS explains that they have embarked on a campaign to ensure that agro-processors meet the required standards so that they produce quality food which is suitable for human consumption.
He says UNBS is currently training processors on how they can improve the food quality and get certified. He adds that they are putting a lot of emphasis on quality and good quality products is the only way to go for farmers and processors.
Ahimbisibwe said that the UNBS, has also joined with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries –MAAIF to fight aflatoxins in the country’s produce.
Aflatoxins are poisonous compounds produced by molds/fungi when they invade not-well-dried foods such as maize, groundnuts, sorghum, soybean, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, spices, and fish as well as animal feeds if processed from contaminated foods, and can cause death to humans and animals. They have also been linked to liver cancer.
Ahimbisibwe said that that though the country is facing numerous food quality challenges, the standards body had set up mechanisms of improving the quality of food.
He says currently, UNBS is ensuring that all processors of food should be certified and that they have a laboratory for testing all the food quality before certifying the processor.
“Under the campaign, we will be reaching out to key players in the sector value chain, including farmers, traders, processors, and transporters as well as the consumers to put out the information on the practices that should be followed in ensuring the safety of these foods, hence improving quality,” he added.
The current training according to UNBS is not only targeting agro-processors involved in grains but all food agro-processors.
Vincent Muhumuza Savannah, a grain processor in Hoima City explains that there was need for sensitization of the farmers because they are the primary producers of the food. He says before enforcing the law, the UNBS should engage the farmers because the food quality gets compromised on the farms.
Godfrey Katabarwa, another food processor in Hoima explains that some unscrupulous farmers are using chemicals to induce produce such as beans and maize to dry faster than they should.
He says they are ready to comply with the directives by UNBS because they also need quality food. Katabarwa said that despite cashing in on their products, supplying high-quality products remains a challenge.