The use of rat poison for beans and grain preservation has caught the attention of individuals, health workers, and government agencies to food quality and safety in the Ankole sub-region.
The population in the sub-region is worried that consuming the beans and grains preserved using the rat poison could lead to cumulative health burdens on them.
For long, cereal and grain farmers across the country have used rat poison and the application of red dry peppers as ways to preserve their products.
Mr. Herbert Aryaija, a dealer in cereals, in Mbarara Municipality, told theCooperator that the application of rat poison is effective in dealing with insects and rats and helps them check losses that result from prolonged storage.
He argues that the application process is safe since they wrap the poison in a piece of cloth before it is put in the cereals.
However, Ronald Rwabutwagu the LCV councilor for the Bushenyi Central Division who also doubles as a member of the District Production Committee said the authorities in the area have already received complaints from consumers about the practice.
Samuel Agaba, a resident Katete village, in Mbabara narrated that his family members fell sick after consuming beans laced with rat poison. “My family members developed a complication in the abdomen as well as itchy skins. We did not know that rat poison had been used to treat the beans until a doctor told us so,” said Agaba.
Bean weevils are common pests that attack beans. The weevils and other pests including rats also attack the grains while in-store. Farmers and traders say this leads to huge post-harvest losses. To mitigate this, the majority of farmers and grain traders employ various insect control measures, including the use of rat poison not minding the consequences of their actions.
Elly Muhwezi, the program coordinator for Uganda Citizens Alliance told theCooperartor that the practice is growing and requires immediate action from the authorities. He faults the authorities for failing to take action as the locals continue to feed on cereals that are unfit for human consumption.
The Ntungamo District Agricultural officer Esther Atwiine said her office has received information that grain and cereal traders were using rat poison to preserve beans and other cereals.
Ms. Atwiine said officials from her officer and agriculture extension workers have embarked on a move to sensitise the locals on the dangers of using rat poison to preserve cereals.
Authorities in the Ankole sub-region have called on the farmers and business community to instead use preservatives meant for human consumption.