Local government authorities in Ssemuto Sub county, Nakaseke District have passed by-laws to guide and regulate farmers and traders on meeting the maize standards for better access to markets.
The by-laws are a result of consecutive consultative meetings on the East African Community maize standards, which were organised by Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (Seatini) Uganda.
It is under its project, "Upgrading quality standards in agriculture for Uganda maize and sesame" that is supported by Trademark East Africa.
The by-laws emphasise proper drying of maize once it has matured, confiscation of immature produce, burning of fields that have been sprayed with harmful chemicals, and fields where immature maize has been slashed to dry on the ground and punishment of farmers who do not have granaries.
Henry Nswemu, LC chairman, Ssemuto Sub county, confirmed that by-laws had been forwarded to the district council for approval and passing for implementation. These by-laws will follow submissions of similar regulations by Kapeeka, Nakaseke and Kansangombe Sub counties.
Nakaseke is a leading producer of maize, according to figures from Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
In general, maize producers in the country have not fully reaped from existing opportunities such as the EAC Common Market due to poor quality production, which does not meet the standards. This limits Uganda's competitiveness in the regional agro-markets.
Jane Nalunga, Seatini country director, notes that despite high agricultural production potential, exports are still very low.
She attributes this to failure to adhere to market requirements especially standards, which result in rejection of Ugandan maize by other EAC countries. For instance, in 2013, Tanzania rejected over 1,000 tonnes of maize from Uganda.
Target value chain
She observed that with the 18-month project in place, Seatini will focus on improving quality of maize and sesame for access to the wider EAC market. This will be by creating awareness on standards, capacity building and policy advocacy. Through this, actors in the value chain will be able to engage in applicability of the maize standard and on developing a standard for sesame.
The project targets the value chains as well as policy makers at local, national and regional levels. Ms Nalunga stressed that the project will help farmers to utilise opportunities in the market and improve their incomes.
Fred Nayebare, Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Nakaseke, pledged to back the process of passing by-laws on maize standards at the local councils. He asked farmers to form cooperatives to enable them sell their produce at favourable prices. Also, the farmers were urged to strive to add value as well.
From Daily Monitor