The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has cautioned farmers against poor post-harvest handling of their produce saying it exposes final consumers to the danger of contracting cancers.
Kadaga made the remarks on Sunday, November 21, while speaking as chief guest during world fisheries day celebrations held at Waka Waka landing site Bulidha sub county Bugiri district.
She said poor post-harvest handling of produce like drying on the bare ground puts consumers to a risk of developing afla toxins that cause cancers in the long run.
“When I was coming all the way from Kampala I realized that most of the people had dried their produce on the bare ground yet it’s dangerous to our lives,“ she said.
Kadaga said Uganda last year lost over 4.5 billion shillings in terms of revenue after foreign countries rejected produce like maize, coffee due to poor post-harvest handling methods by farmers.
She hailed the German government through GIZ for empowering women economically through the women economic empowerment Bugiri(WEEB).
Kadaga said during the harvest period of fish each woman is expected to earn shillings 6 million monthly through sell of their produce in separate fish cages set up on Lake Victoria.
The minister for agriculture Vincent Sempijja urged parliament speed up the passing of the fisheries and aqua culture bill improve on the fishing habits in the country.
Sempija said there’s need by government support local fish farmers set up more fish ponds saying 52 percent of fish consumed is got from farms.
“These fishermen of ours have the capacity to produce more fish that can be consumed locally but need support from government,“ he said.
He said while government was committed to improving the fish catch across all water bodies in the country there is still need to tackle bad farming practices like poor fishing methods being carried out by fishermen.
The project leader GIZ, Adolf Gerstl said the world fisheries day is when the fishing communities worldwide celebrate through workshops, public meetings exhibitions and demonstrations to highlight the importance of maintaining world fisheries.
He said the fisheries sector plays a pivotal role in providing employment opportunities to youths, revenue and source of animal protein to thousands of households in East Africa.
Gerstl said before start of the cage fish farming at Waka Waka landing site the fisheries sector was experiencing numerous challenges ranging from declining fish stock due to unsustainable management of the fisheries resource, lack of finance for proper governance and law enforcement in the fisheries sector.
“This led to unregulated access of fishers to the lake very often with illegal fishing gear “he said
He said the Nile perch fish species is a lucrative export product and its products like swim bladder that can fetch income for the country for sale to the Chinese government.
“It’s through these initiatives that the German federal ministry for economic cooperation and development under its special initiative “One world – No hunger (SEWOH) commissioned the Gersellchaft for international set up the responsible fisheries business chains project,“ he said.
The chairman LC 5 Bugiri, Hajji Marijani Azalwa said the district was committed to providing all the necessary support ensure the program benefits all women.
Azalwa said previously women used to shoulder a burden to their husbands buy necessities like Vaseline, dresses, soap and other necessities but with the start of the cage fish farming only very few still put their demands to their spouses.
“Women can now freely buy whatever they desire unlike in the past where the entire burden was on their husbands,“ he said.
Also in attendance was the district officials including the chief administrative officer Bugiri, Ezaruku Kazimiro, lead expert on cage fish farming, Doctor Gladys Bwanika among others.