A team from Teesside University visited Makerere last week, in a move that they said could potentially boost farmers’ incomes and also endear Ugandan products on the global market.
FARMING VALUE ADDITION
A Northern England university is seeking partnership with Makerere University, to produce devices that will help farmers detect microbes in grains and vegetables across the value chain, before they reach the end-users.
The devices will also help in improving production, reducing post-harvest losses and enhancing food safety in Uganda.
A team from Teesside University visited Makerere last week, in a move that they said could potentially boost farmers' incomes and also endear Ugandan products on the global market.
"Our collaboration is looking at developing innovative technology-based practices to develop the agriculture value chain, especially at post-harvest, and ensuring food safety across the various food chains," said Lawrence Nyanzi, the Teesside program director for doctoral studies in public health.
Nyanzi said technology can alleviate the prevalent problems in Uganda's agriculture sector, and boost its contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) currently estimated at 22.5%.
He said with ever-increasing innovations, technology has played a big role in improving various sectors of the economy, including services, industry, and agriculture, particularly in the developed world.
He said farmers in the developed world use sophisticated technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS technology to boost production.
"In Uganda particularly, we are looking at developing a specific mobile-based app, to help farmers detect infections before the produce is taken to the market. Currently, the biggest challenge is that often their products are rejected on the global market because of microbial infestations," he said.
Last year, Kenya rejected 600,000 tons of maize from Uganda, valued at approximately $48.7m (sh180b) because it was reportedly contaminated by aflatoxins.
According to experts, about 40% of the maize grown in Uganda contains aflatoxins at levels that exceed the accepted standards among East African Community countries
The chairperson of the Uganda Grain Council, Chris Kaijuka said the partnership will be beneficial to Ugandan farmers, and the entire agribusiness value chain.
He said advanced devices will allow agri-based businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly.
"Currently, we produce so much, but also put so much to waste. Much of what we produce is either destroyed at post-harvest due to poor handling technologies, or rejected in the market, so we end up making loses either way," he said.
Makerere University's associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Dr. William Kyamuhangire said it is imperative to upgrade food handling technology to improve their safety and nutritional value.
Agriculture is recorgnised by the Uganda government as a source of growth, employment and poverty eradication both in the National Development Plan II and the Vision 2040.
The sector employs approximately 80% of the population, according to records from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS)