Animal feed manufacturers under their umbrella body, Uganda Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (UGAFMA) have started the process of starting up the first agricultural polytechnic in the country.
Speaking during a meeting of the members, UGAFMA Secretary General, David Waliggo said one of the biggest problems facing the local feeds industry is in terms of quality and quantities but stemming from lack of education for both dealers and farmers.
“When we studied the chicken and animal feeds industry, we realized the first avenue to approach the problem is education in what people are doing. We realized that 90% of animal farmers and animal feed dealers lack any form of education in these matters. They don’t know how to mix feeds,” Waliggo said.
“We want to establish the first agricultural polytechnic in this country where people will learn how to grow animal products, food, systems of selling and marketing, systems of pricing, and systems of further development of this industry.”
He said they have already purchased a school in Ssisa, Wakiso district where the polytechnic will be located and are in contact with counterparts from South Africa, and Kenya to formulate a syllabus to be followed.
“We shall have those people(from Kenya and South Africa) come to teach our people on how to do these things. We have always had a problem with regulation for quality and quantity of the products in this industry because probably the players didn’t know what to do. We think with the school offering education, we will bring sanity.”
In a bid to further sanitise the industry, the animal feed manufacturers have announced they are ready to put in place a commodity exchange that will help control the pricing of animal and chicken feeds.
“Just like our neighbouring countries have commodity exchanges, we are to start our own here. We think there has been a problem with production, distribution and sale of animal feeds. There is need to differentiate between animal and human food. The quality must always be different. In a bid to regulate that market, we want to put in place a local animal feeds commodity exchange,”Waliggo said.
He explained that the commodity exchange will regulate the quantity, quality, pricing and distribution of the animal feed products that are manufactured locally for the benefit of the manufacturers, dealers and members of the public.
“Our feeds are being sold within the country and outside without any regulated market. We need to regulate this but by us as the private sector. “
Waliggo explained all these efforts are aimed at ensuring that Uganda improves in both quality and quantity the output of animal feeds to sustain not only the local market but also for export to be able to challenge other markets like Kenya.
He insisted that Uganda has a higher chance of surpassing all the other markets in the produce of animal feeds since the country enjoys organic inputs.
Speaking during the same meeting, Denis Mulongo Maholo, a principal range ecologist in the department of animal and nutrition in the Ministry of Agriculture said the national capacity in production of animal feeds is approximately 75000 metric tons annually with small scale mixers producing 40,000 metric tons.
“It is unquestionably clear that quality and properly formulated animal feed is a critical input in animal production. Science has proved that properly formulated and safe animal feeds reduce feedings costs on large scale by 50%, minimize the risk of animal diseases and greatly reduce emissions from livestock,”Maholo noted.
He however said the problem of poor quality has seen a drop in quantities of locally manufactured animal feeds exported by the country.
“As a ministry, we are concerned about steep drop in earning from export trade that has reduced into a switch in the balance of trade of the commodity from a positive shs1.32trillion to a negative shs2.14billion. This negative trade balance has greatly been associated to reduced competitiveness on the export market due to failure of compliance to animal feed quality and safety standard that risk users in importing countries to losses but most importantly mortalities,” the Ministry of Health official said.
He welcomed the move to regulate the industry by the animal feed manufactures, adding that the ministry is ready to support them.