By Prossy Nandudu
Ugandan Small and Medium industries in agro processing and Value addition are to miss out on the regional and international market due to lack of skills and technology to manage food safety among the small and medium industries (SME) to manage food safety problems.
This is because the regional and international markets where food safety standards influence prices and consumers choices are highly regulated.
This was revealed by the minister of Industry, trade and cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde while officiating at the opening of a three-day training workshop on food safety organized by COMESA in partnership with Makerere university food science and Bio technology on Monday.
“While there is potential to develop a productive and competitive agro processing, majority of regional SME’s are facing a number of constraints among which the lack of skills to handle the foods in a hygienic manner accepted by regional and international markets,” Kyambadde said.
She added that as result of poor skills of handling and managing food safety by Ugandan traders, only 30% of Ugandan products have found their way to foreign supermarkets, while 70% are foreign products.
According to Kyambadde, once SME’s embrace the required standards while processing foods, they will be in position to create more jobs for Uganda which is known to be having the youngest population which accounts for over 78% youth below the age of 30 yrs.
Experts have warned that such a young population will exert more pressure on the economy unless it is transformed into productive workforce.
“Initiatives intended to create jobs absorb and employ the youth by giving them skills will not only create jobs but will also support skills development at the same time growing the SME sector that creates jobs for the youth,” the minister said.
The head of the COMESA programme on Food safety, Plant and animal Health, Martha Byanyima said that there is regional demand for food by the regional markets however for Ugandans to benefit; they must go by the required standards.
She however noted the main challenge they are facing is failure by some members in the COMESA to come up with food safety laws.