Trade in Agriculture Safely and Efficiently in East Africa (TRASE) Project Manager, Ms. Martha Byanyima, said that although it is not yet quantified, the region loses a lot of revenue due to the interception of produce. contaminated agricultural products on the international market.
“The signs are there, the partners around the world that we are bulk trading with, have a huge market for our produce, fresh produce in particular, but we are getting so many interceptions. Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya frequently receive notifications about shipments intercepted with pests that have been quarantined or biohazards found in them,” she said.
She made the remarks while opening a three-day training workshop on food and safety in commemoration of World Food Safety Day in Kampala on Wednesday.
Ms Byanyima said countries face a problem of lack of technology to trace and put in place remedial actions for pests detected in the international trading system and then respond to the trading partner.
“As a result, we have sometimes been removed from list one to list three and sometimes completely blacklisted because we do not have proactive systems. We are always reacting to an issue and not doing enough,” she noted.
Ms. Byanyima said there was a need for government and the private sector to work together to ensure food security and improve food control systems to enable regional products to be competitive in the international agricultural market.
Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Fred Bwino, said there was a need to raise awareness among producers and consumers of the importance of food safety to improve the country’s international trade.
“We need to make sure that right from on-farm production, through harvest handling, storage, processing and marketing, is done in a safe way. Of course, beyond raising awareness, we need to put in place relevant policies and laws to deter errant actors in the food industry,” he said.
Mr Bwino said the country was not only losing money from tainted exports, but also credibility.