Kampala, Uganda | Food and environment activists say you need to urgently find ways of avoiding food loss and waste or risk financial and environment losses.
The Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Sempijja and Food Agricultural Organization Country representative, Antonio Querido say it is high time that you rethink how to avoid such losses at harvest or during marketing of you food.
Their call comes as Uganda marks the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (DAFLW).The United Nations General Assembly recently designated 29th September as the International Day of Awareness of Food Waste and loss.
The day is aimed at raising awareness against food loss and wastage. Agriculture Minister, Vincent Sempijja told journalists in Kampala that in Uganda food loss mainly occurs during harvest and post-harvest handling. He said food loss and waste also happens in in homes especially when cooked or uncooked food is thrown to the dust bins.
“The government of Uganda has put in place enabling policy frameworks for food loss reduction and these include the constitution of republic of Uganda objective 12 (twelve) which compels the state to take appropriate steps to grow and store adequate food, vision 2040 which underscores the need to reduce food loss and wastage and improve food safety among others” said Sempijja
He also says that food loss and waste is one of the biggest challenges, for growth of the agriculture sector because it threatens household incomes, food security and nutrition.
According to Sempijja, over 17% of 2.8 million tons of maize produced in Uganda annually is lost or wasted during harvest or post handling services. He said it is estimated 12.4 % of the 214,000 tons of millet is lost or wasted in Uganda annually.
Food and Agricultural Organisation Country Representative, Antonio Querido says it is important that people understand that food loss and waste affects the economy of the country and individuals.
Querido explained that in case of Uganda like other countries, when food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce I like t, water, land, energy, labor and capital goes to waste.
He explained that in case of wastage in homes, poor disposal of food in landscapes lead to greenhouse emission which contribute to climate change.
He said in the COVID 19 pandemic in Uganda and the rest world brought to the fore front about the need to reform and balance the way our food is produced and consumed. Globally, it is estimated that 14% of the food produced is lost between the harvest and retail leading to 40 million dollars lost by smallholder farmers.
A study conducted by Food Right Alliance(FRA) and Twaweza among others urged for the need to address the food systems in the country. Food Rights Alliance Executive director, Agnes Kirabo revealed that hat if a farmer in Uganda produces 10 kilograms of maize, that farmer loses about 1.2 Kilograms on the farm.
Kirabo says food waste constitutes a huge proportion of garbage collected or disposed in Kampala on a daily basis. She added that if food that goes to waste was saved, it would help many people who are suffering in the neighborhoods.
She appeals to Ugandans that as they are trying to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, they should ensure that the available food should be put in right use which will help to them to improve the immunity to fight the virus
“Take responsibility and personal actions as an individual. Consume responsibly and don’t serve a full plate of food which will be left to waste yet others are missing” said Kirabo
The campaign against food loss and waste is part of the sustainable development goal target 12.3 which aims to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains.
Between March and June when the total lockdown was partially lifted, dairy and poultry farmers lost market for their products because hotels, restaurants and food service points were no longer buying eggs, milk and beef among other foods.
Banana and other fresh food producers also registered a high drop in demand leading to low prices. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, food is lost or wasted on-farm through inadequate harvesting time, climatic conditions, practices applied at harvest and handling, and challenges in marketing produce.
The other loss occurs in storage where significant losses are caused by inadequate storage, as well as decisions made at earlier stages of the supply chain that cause products to have a shorter shelf life. In Uganda, the loss in transit is equally big though usually ignored.
Studies have called for good infrastructure and efficient trade logistics so as to prevent food loss.They have also suggested the need to improve processing and packaging so as top reserve foods, and losses often caused by inadequate facilities, technical malfunction, or human error.
The causes of food waste at the retail level are linked to limited shelf life, the need for food products to meet aesthetic standards in terms of color, shape, and size, and variability in demand. While at home, don’t serve yourself food that you cannot finish eating.
Food buyers are advised to adequately plan to avoid excess buying normally influenced by over-large portioning and package sizes, confusion over labels and poor in-home storage.
Moderate rain, dry spells in parts of Uganda expected
ICPAC has predicted moderate rainfall for this week (September 20-27, 2022) for parts of the Greater Horn of Africa including Uganda.
ICPAC is a Climate Center accredited by the World Meteorological Organization that provides Climate Services to 11 East African Countries.
“Moderate rainfall (50-200mm) expected over western South Sudan, parts of southern Sudan, most parts of Uganda, Rwanda, central Ethiopia, and northern Somalia,” ICPAC stated in their weekly forecast for September 20-27, 2022.
ICPAC says one millimetre of rain is equivalent to one litre of rain per square kilometre.
The forecast is also predicting wetter than usual conditions expected over most parts of southern Sudan, northwestern South Sudan, northern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, northern and southern Uganda, and Rwanda.
Drier than usual conditions are predicted over parts of western Uganda, north-eastern South Sudan, central Ethiopia, and isolated parts in central Somalia.
At the same time, light rain is expected over parts of some countries in the Greater Horn of Africa. “Light rainfall (less than 50 mm) expected over southern Sudan, eastern South Sudan, Burundi, coastal Tanzania, central to western and eastern Kenya, central to southern Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and parts of northern and southern Ethiopia,” ICPAC stated.
In addition, dry conditions are expected over northern Sudan, parts of northern and eastern Kenya, and most parts of Tanzania.
Original Source: New Vision
Sugarcane farmers abandon fields due to lack of markets
While the sugarcane sector has the potential to empower stakeholders along the value chain, farmers have abandoned their fields for other income-generating activities, writes YUDAYA NANGONZI.
Currently, sugar production has declined amidst increasing demand from consumers and fluctuating prices, with the majority of millers operating below capacity. In a study conducted by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) on the sector, Dr Swaibu Mbowa, the lead researcher, attributed the massive exodus of cane growers to lack of markets and a decline in cane prices while other farmers have already replaced cane with food crops.
The increasing levels of poverty in cane-growing districts have also forced farmers to rethink the crop. In Uganda, about 29,000 farming households engage in cane production with an estimated 640,000 labourers. More households took up the business between 2012 and 2021 with at least 40,000 households, at one point, growing cane between 2005 and 2021.
“By the time we collected data in November-December 2021, this number had declined to about 29,000. This indicates that 28 per cent of out- growers had abandoned cane growing, with the highest attrition rate (33.8%) occurring in the Busoga sub-region,” Mbowa said.
This implies that one in every three cane farmers in Busoga has abandoned the business. Currently, Busoga has 20,474 growers while 10,475 stopped growing cane. In the Buganda region, the research shows that there are 4,394 growers and 522 farmers out of the business. In Bunyoro, 367 farmers joined other activities, leaving 3,801 active growers.
Mbowa presented the daunting figures at the recent 10th national Forum on Agriculture and Food Security held at Sheraton hotel in Kampala. The forum was organized by the EPRC in collaboration with Michigan State University and the International Food Policy Research Institute under the auspices of the Food Security Policy Research, Capacity and Influence.
Themed “Revisiting Policy, Institutional and Regulatory Arrangements in Uganda’s Sugarcane Sector”, the forum intended to stimulate debate on how to strengthen and improve the implementation of the sugarcane policy and regulatory frameworks to foster sustainable transformation in Uganda.
“MILLERS FAILING FARMERS”
Worldwide, sugar factory ownership is a mix between the government and the private sector. For Uganda, ownership is largely private with the government owning a lesser stake in the Atiak Sugar factory after selling its shares in Kinyara Sugar Factory in 2017.
This arrangement, farmers argued, has forced many to collapse as millers suffocate the sector. As of 2020, there were 33 licensed mills, with a combined milling capacity of 71,850 tonnes per day.
However, by December 2021, only 12 mills in the study sub-regions were operational and out-growers sold more cane to mainly established large millers who have disproportionate power over sugarcane price determination.
Mbowa noted that existing millers acquired new licenses in different jurisdictions to forestall other players from establishing milling plants in the same area. This could explain why there are fewer operational mills than those licensed.
The negative free-fall in sugarcane prices worsened the situation. For instance, a tonne of cane that cost Shs 175,000, Shs 162,000, and Shs 135,000 in Buganda, Busoga, and Bunyoro in 2017 has since dropped to Shs 95,282, Shs 92,782, and Shs 97,907 respectively.
Speaking to The Observer on the sidelines of the forum, a cane out-grower and director of the sugarcane value chain at Operation Wealth Creation, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko, agreed that prices are illogically fixed by millers.
“We may look at millers as competitors in business but it’s not the case during price determination. Unlike in the past when millers would negotiate with farmers or their association, today, you find the price fixed on their notice board. Surprisingly, cane is the only crop where prices don’t vary much across the country. What does that mean?” Kabakumba asked.
Due to the price inconsistencies, some farmers have been forced to cut the cane for other activities since millers were also taking longer to buy it at fair prices.
“Today, there’s scarcity of cane. Millers are looking for cane in vain and that cyclical nature of operation by hurting farmers is catching up with them and the entire sugar sector,” she said.
The farmers also faulted millers for infiltrating their organization to ensure that they remain weak and the introduction of cane harvesting permits has created a black market for them, especially in Buganda to the detriment of farmers.
The manager of Kayunga Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative Society, Semeo Mugenyi, urged the government to regulate how far millers can go in expanding their nucleus to reduce competition with farmers.
“The primary role of an investor is to give economic opportunities to the local people. If the investor takes half of the supply, then it limits potential farmers on their supply,” Mugenyi said, adding that without a sugar mill managed by farmers as promised by President Museveni, cane farmers will continue to be exploited or exit the sector.
The study findings call for urgent discussions among government and sector stakeholders on the future of the sugarcane sector. In particular, the study points to the need for the constitution of the sugar board, as recommended by the Sugar Act 2020 to oversee the sector. Mbowa said the inclusion of out-growers in the cane sector is “the primary means by which it can contribute to increases in rural farm household incomes, food security, and rural employment in cane-growing areas.”
To date, the 2010 Sugar Policy and the Sugar Act of 2022 are not operational. David Kiiza, a senior industrial officer at the ministry of Trade, said the government has made strides in organizing the sector but remains constrained by inadequate funds.
“We wrote to stakeholders and they sent us their nominations but the ministry of Finance said it has no money for setting up the board. They [Finance] told us to make a supplementary budget of Shs 2bn [to set up the board] but they have told us to wait. Most likely, the money will be availed in the next financial year,” Kiiza said.
He added: “The ministry of Trade has already held a meeting with millers and we plan to schedule one for the out-growers and later meet them all in one meeting to agree how to set up the board as we await funds from the government. By the end of this year, we expect the Act to be reviewed.”
In the meantime, Kabakumba urged the traditional big millers to graduate into the production of refined industrial sugar as Uganda has brown sugar in surplus. This would provide the much-needed market for the farmers of sugarcane as well as more employment opportunities for small millers dealing in brown sugar.
Source: The Observer
Hailstorm destroys community school, gardens in Isingiro
Isingiro, Uganda. Residents of Rugaaga, Kashumba sub counties, and Kabingo town council in Isingiro district are counting losses following a heavy hailstorm that destroyed their gardens. The hailstorm that affected more than 300 homesteads also destroyed a community school and houses on Tuesday.
Kenneth Kaunda, the headteacher of Noah Community School said that the rain that started at 4:00pm, de-roofed three classroom blocks and the school’s administration block.
Kaunda says that he is now planning to call the PTA and school management meeting over the matter.
Warren Matiibita a resident of Katungye cell said he has lost 16 acres of banana plantation to the hailstorm and this leaves him worried about how he will manage to pay his loan and school fees for his children. Matiibita says that he has been collecting at least 100,000 Shillings from 100 bunches every two days.
He also says the hailstorm destroyed gardens of beans, cassava, and maize.
Steven Mwesigye, the chairperson LCI Katungye cell said about 320 households were affected by the hailstorm in his village and seven houses were destroyed.
He said that the hailstorm hit at a time when the area is experiencing a dry spell.
Medius Kenkanja, another affected resident said that she lost one and a half acres of cassava and eight acres of banana plantations, and a house leaving her stranded with her eight children. She pleaded with the government for help.
Alone Turahi, the Isingiro LCV chairperson said that they have asked the District Production Officer to compile a comprehensive report on the extent of the damages caused by the hailstorm.
He said that the District Disaster Management Committee has a small budget of less than five million shillings and can’t afford to assist the affected families. Turahi said that they will write to the Office of the Prime Minster requesting relief food for the affected families.
Anita Atukwase, an environmentalist with Save the Nature in Isingiro district says that there is rampant deforestation and poor farming practices in the area.
Original Source: URN via The Independent
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