Players in Uganda's beef industry have requested the government to increase its support to the industry, if they are to perform better in both local and international markets.
Dr. Charles Mukama, a senior veterinary officer at the agriculture ministry said the government has tried to attract investors with little success due to poor standards by working with the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"We have tried to attract investors into the meat industry, but when they tour our abattoirs that are characterized by poor meat handling methods and low standards used by Ugandans, they never come back to invest," Mukama told stakeholders in the industry at Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI's) conference hall in Kampala over the weekend.
During the meeting that was organised by the trade ministry in collaboration with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), stakeholders including butchers were equipped with different skills in meat handling from animal to meat handling to improve on the quality and standards of meat produced.
Mukama also noted that meat standards are still very low, and more effort is still needed to be put in, adding that players never mind about standards but only money while handling meat leading to production of poor quality meat that does not meet international standards.
However, Capt. Denis Aubbery Saazi, managing director of Nsooba Slaughter House Ltd says before government thinks of attracting foreign investors, it should fully supports the local investors by improving their current facilities.
Another trader only identified as Jamil said the government should prioritize partnerships between local and foreign investors, a thing that Dr. Mukama agreed to drawing an example from Ethiopia where government encourages partnerships between local and foreign investors.
"Much as we think of exporting meat, we must think of giving the market quality products as well to enable us perform better in the market. We can produce the best quality meat because our cattle feed on natural green grass," Saazi urged fellow players in the industry on quality.
Samuel Ssenkungu, the trade ministry director of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives noted that standards define conditions in which agricultural products should be when it is sold and shipped across borders, when implemented, meat standards facilitate marketing by bringing confidence to the supply chain and providing assurance to the customer that they are getting what they want.
Mukama also emphasized the need to maintain clean slaughter houses that conform to good designs to ensure production of good quality beef. He added: "If you slaughter from poorly planned abattoirs, the meat produced is most likely to be of poor quality".
The slaughter house must be conforming to good designs that can ensure that the meat produced will be of good quality.
This comes at a time when the ban imposed on Uganda's beef exports to Saudi Arabia due to poor quality and standards in 2008 still stands.