By Prossy Nandudu
Local food manufacturers have been asked to take advantage of nutrition deficiencies in the country to manufacture nutrient rich foods.
The advice was sounded by Jim Hershey, the executive director of the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, during the Global Based Initiative conference at the Imperial Royale Hotel on Tuesday.
Hershey said some of the nutritional deficiencies can be addressed by adding foods rich in proteins such as soya, peas, beans and sweet potatoes to manufactured food products.
This follows reports from the Uganda Demography study that over 33% of children suffer from chronic and under malnutrition.
This translates to about 5.6 million children who have low weight, are stunted or have kwashiorkor.
The conference under the theme “Diversifying the East African Food Basket” and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture aimed at developing East Africa’s regional markets with US Food Ingredient suppliers.
Hershey said Uganda is a very productive agricultural economy but there are gaps in household nutrition and on the market, an element that can be addressed through trade.
“This is an opportunity for local food manufacturers to build business capacity and pull more products from farmers and make them available to consumers especially in the cities, Hershey added.
He also noted that supply of these foods may not be constant given the changing weather patterns.
“Sometimes supplies of these crops are short, and may not be available on the market so processors should look at it as an opportunity to buy these foods from farmers and make the foods affordable and available to the Ugandan market,” added Hershey.
At the same function the political and economic section chief at the US Embassy in Kampala, Michael Newbill said the US government will continue to mobilise players in the agriculture sector to improve its productivity.
“Many business people are aware of the opportunities in Africa and are willing to come but that means Uganda should be in position to identify key areas in the agriculture sector that can be taken on by the US to increase Uganda’s potential in the sector,” said Newbill.