UGANDA – The Grain Council of Uganda (TGCU) has called for interventions to regulate the foreign buying of grain, saying it is exacerbating the problem of aflatoxins in Uganda.
Speaking to a local radio station, TGCU chairperson Robert Mwanje said that due to the high demand for maize, foreigners are coming into the country to buy the grains before maturity.
He said as a result, the maize is not allowed to mature, has higher moisture content, which is worsening the problem of aflatoxins due to growth of molds.
Aflatoxins are known to cause liver cancer and immune suppression and are strongly associated with stunting.
This comes after the recent move by the government to set policies to curb aflatoxin in agricultural produce.
Earlier, Alfred Oyo Andima, the Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives announced while appearing before the joint Committee on Health and Agriculture on Thursday, 05 October 2023 said that the government is commited to curb the issue of aflatoxin, adding that a committee has been formed.
According to him, the is mandated to assess the impact of aflatoxin contamination in foods to ensure that safe and high-quality agro commodities are sold in the domestic and international markets.
Andima added that the National Trade Policy, Grains Trade Policy, and Standard and Quality Policy have set measures to ensure aflatoxin-free foods on the market.
He noted that the bureau has 37 surveillance officers managing enforcement in the entire country, and made a call for more staff to improve market surveillance and import inspection.
However, Mwaje has revealed that some unscrupulous people are spraying maize with chemicals such as “Ambush” to make it dry faster. “This is the grain ending up at the border and creating a bad name for us,” he said.
Mwanje said that as TGCU, they have made efforts to ensure that grain is properly harvested and processed, but their work is being undone by such acts.
“We’ve had what we call industrial self-regulation, we’ll try to regulate ourselves. We’ll try to say, ‘what can we do, such that whatever weprocess, whatever we give to people to eat, is fit for human consumption, but efforts are being undone,” he added.
In recent years, Uganda has had her grain rejected by Kenya and South Sudan over concerns that the level of aflatoxins in the consignments for export exceeds levels recommended by the World Health Organization.