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Inside NRM plan to improve post-harvest handling

As the country continues to grapple with acute food waste, loss and insecurity, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has committed to improve upon Uganda’s post-harvest management and promote value addition for the agricultural sector.

Uganda loses over 2.8m MT of maize, 214,000 MT of millet, and 230,000 MT of rice, due to poor postharvest handling methods, with negative impacts on the profitability of agricultural ventures.

Commenting on this challenge, the NRM, in its party manifesto for the 2021 General Elections notes:

“High food losses result from poor post-harvest handling practices like poor drying and high moisture content at storage time. Losses also result from inadequate and inappropriate storage facilities, limited value-addition, filth and contamination.”

Speaking at the party’s Manifesto Launch event earlier this week, NRM party Chairman and Presidential flag bearer, Yoweri Museveni, emphasized NRM’s commitment to address food and nutrition insecurity by combating postharvest losses. 

The proposed plan aims to address gaps in food storage capacities, eradicate losses and improve value addition and collective produce marketing. 

Over the next five years, the party intends to educate farmers on the right post-harvest handling practices through the parish Production Cooperatives, acquire appropriate post harvest technology for handling beef, fish diary and horticulture products and ensure that different regulatory authorities implement the relevant standards. 

Innovation key

In the past, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has called for greater innovativeness in dealing with the food waste and loss, insecurity and nutritional deficiencies rife among many communities in Uganda. 

During this year’s celebration of World Food Day, Antonio Querido, the FAO Country Representative emphasized the need for innovative solutions to avert persistent inequalities and inefficiencies in the local food systems and economies, inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to FAO’s Food Security status report for Uganda for June 2020 – January 2021, by July this year a quarter of families within the urban Centre lacked food to eat, while 60% sold family assets or turned to illegal activities to survive. 

The report estimates that 17% of Ugandans living in Kampala are experiencing acute food insecurity. In his remarks, Querido urged:

“The methods of food production, processing, trading, consumption and disposal should be transformed, to ensure that future needs can be met without degrading and depleting the biodiversity.” 

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