By Umar Kashaka
Following the recent ban on the importation of its maize by Kenya, civil society organizations have asked the Ugandan government to deal with the quality of its exports.
Addressing journalists on Sunday, Jane Nalunga, the Country Director SEATINI- Uganda said on several occasions, Ugandan goods have been rejected abroad over issues to do with their quality, noting that it is high time government worked on the same.
“Uganda’s products have had several challenges in respect to adherence to sanitary and phytosanitary measures to markets In fact, Uganda’s trade with other partners has been characterized with bans and rejections of our products by other countries,”Nalunga said .
She cited the ban on Ugandan fish by the European Union in 2002, 2015 and 2005 due to poor standards and a July to December 2019 rejection, detention and destruction of Uganda’s sesame by Germany among other incidents.
According to the SEATINI Country Director the same challenge has on several occasions manifested itself on the domestic market for both locally produced and imported products
“In 2014, a study by African Union together with Makerere University school of food science and technology, nutrition and biosystems engineering established that 20% of maize samples collected from major growing regions in Uganda had aflatoxins above the recommended limit,”she said.
She noted that findings from research by Makerere University and the University of Georgia in the five major markets in Kampala including Nateete, Owino, Nakasero, Kalerwe and Nakawa indicated the maize had aflatoxins.
The CSO insisted that the continued prevalence of aflatoxins and misuse of chemicals in the food system and non-compliance to quality standards has dire consequences on the health of people.
Kenya accused of protectionism
However, the Civil Society Organisations accused the Kenyan government of protectionism by banning exports from other countries, citing the ban on Ugandan eggs, chicken, milk and beef.
“This is not the first time Kenya has banned products from Uganda. Every time Uganda has increased its production and competitiveness, there has been a knee-jack reaction by Kenya either questioning Uganda’s capacity to produce or raising the issue of conformity to the required standards,”Nalunga said.
“These actions by Kenya have raised the specter of a trade war between Uganda and Kenya and there have also been accusations of protectionism by Kenya.”
The CSOs however urged the East African governments to sit and solve the issue amicably using the existing laws.
“Governments should know the East African Community was founded on a treaty which creates mechanisms on how to solve such disputes. It should not just come from Kenya to ban products but should use systems under the treaty for the formation of the East African Community, “said David Kbanda, the director for Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT).
He insisted that government should not abrogate its role in enforcing standards for exports.