By Prossy Nandudu
The World Food Programme (WFP) has called on the ministry of trade, industry and cooperatives, to regulate cross border trade of grains if quality for both the regional and international market is to be achieved.
They also want the ministry to increase the sensitization on acceptable grain standards for traders to benefit from the grain market.
Following the WFP call, the minister of trade Amelia Kyambadde has now set up a three-man committee to work with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to sensitise grain traders.
The committee headed by Dr. Joshua Mutambi, from the department of Industry and Technology also comprises, Chris Kaijuka, the Chairman of grain traders and Hakim Mufumbiro, head of the food standards department at UNBS.
According to WFP’s deputy head of programme, Germain Koffi Akoubia, traders from neighboring countries cross over to Uganda and buy grains indiscriminately mixing the rotten, discolored and good grain and later sale it as a Ugandan product.
Koffi said the trend has lowered the quality and standard of grains coming from Uganda. “Grain traders come from South Sudan and offer higher prices for grain but don’t care about the quality and the standard,” said Koffi.
“In the long run the practice does not affect only individual buyers but the whole grain industry in Uganda and the damage may be hard to reverse,” Kofi said. This was a meeting with grain traders
Koffi explained that for traders to benefit from international food buyers, they should follow set standards under the East African Community.
For example, the East African maize grain standard include exclusion of insect of vermin damaged grains, stained , diseased, discoloured, germinated, frost damaged, moldy, broken, immature, has foreign matter such as sand, soil, glass among other and animal filth.
He regretted that majority of traders have not been paying attention to standard leading to cancelation of supply contracts by WFP, the largest buyer of grain for relief aid.
He said a study conducted in 2013, showed that there were no traders in Uganda using the set standards yet WFP are under instruction to buy food that meet the EAC grain standards.
Most of the grain from Uganda has been found to be rotten and discoloured, he said.
“When buying grain from Ugandan grain traders we buy for people. We have noted that when we contract them, they don’t have stock, which causes delays. When they try to get the grain, it’s not matching the set standard under the East African Community,” said Koffi.