Millers Want UNBS to Equip Farmers with Post-Harvest Handling Skills

Maize millers from Mayuge district have tasked the Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS, to equip farmers with post-harvest handling skills in order to ensure good quality grain products in the market.

Millers argue that whereas UNBS penalizes traders and millers whose grain is found to contain aflatoxins, many farmers sell to them contaminated maize, which if extensively sieved, affects their final product.

Andrew Ngobi, a miller from Imanyiro Sub County says that UNBS should institute voluntary village committees, mandated with grassroots enforcement of quality grain harvest and storage practices, like using tarpaulins to dry grains, packaging in clean sacks, storage in well-ventilated rooms, among others.

Ngobi argues that such practices will foster rightful moisture contents in the maize and reduce the amounts of aflatoxins before the final sale to the different millers.

Musa Mulugo of Mulugo millers says that he loses 120 kilogrammes of maize grain after sieving every ton bought from farmers which affects his profits and ability to foot operational costs at the mill. He notes that such practices are scaring seasonal millers from registering their businesses, as it would over time attract UNBS inspectors to demand quality standards from them, yet maize grain quality measures are frustrated from the grassroots.

Robert Kigenyi of Ikulwe millers says that when the millers in Mayuge district resolved to reject poor-quality grain from farmers late last year, it was sold in Iganga and Jinja districts under the watch of authorities, in turn, exposing final consumers to aflatoxins.

Esther Namono, a miller in Malongo Sub County says that most farmers deliberately fix grated pieces of maize cobs within the grain-filled sacks and it is hard to detect.

“Our farmers need a retooling on the health risks associated with these foreign materials fixed in the grain bags because most of them focus on increasing weights and profit maximization, rather than the health of the final consumers,” she says.

Meanwhile UNBS’ spokesperson, Sylvia Kirabo says that enforcing acceptable maize grain post-harvest handling practices is a multi-sectoral initiative, which was since documented and they are liaising with implementing agencies from the agriculture affairs ministry, to foster retooling of grassroots farmers across the country.    

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