Home Agriculture Informal Maize Trade to Blame for Uganda’s Market Rejections

Informal Maize Trade to Blame for Uganda’s Market Rejections

increased demand for kenyan maize attracts regional buyers
increased demand for kenyan maize attracts regional buyers
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In 2018, Kenya said “no” to 600,000 tons of maize from Uganda because it wasn’t good enough. They were worried about it being unsafe because of bad quality and aflatoxin.

Grain experts say one big problem is selling maize right from the gardens without doing the right things like drying, testing, and packing it nicely. This can make the maize get moldy or bad, especially if it’s just left on the ground where it can get dirty and grow things like the fungus that makes aflatoxin.

Also, there’s no way to check if the maize is good or not because everything happens in the garden. This has led to other countries not wanting Uganda’s maize because it’s not good and has aflatoxins, which are dangerous.

Emmanuel Asiimwe, who runs the Eastern Africa Grain Council in Uganda, said this during the 10th Africa Grain Summit in Kampala. The summit had people from different countries and companies who care about technology and grain.

Asiimwe explained that because people can just come to Uganda, buy maize, and leave without anyone checking, it’s hard to make the maize better. Banks also don’t want to give money to the grain trade because it’s too risky.

So, we need to make the grain business more official. That’s the only way we can use technology to fix problems like aflatoxin and bad quality.

For example, this year, 70 trucks full of maize going to South Sudan were told to go back because South Sudan said the maize was bad and had aflatoxins, which can make people and animals very sick.

In 2018, Kenya also said no to 600,000 tons of Uganda’s maize because it wasn’t good and had aflatoxins.

Experts say that in local African markets, 40% of the food has too much aflatoxin, and Uganda loses $38 million every year because of this.

How Other Countries Are Fixing the Problem

In Tanzania, they don’t let foreigners go to farmers’ gardens and buy maize. They say if you want to buy maize as a foreigner, you need to act like a local company in Tanzania, get a special license, and make sure the maize is safe before you can take it out of Tanzania.

Tanzania also gave money to the Tanzania Grain Reserve Agency to buy maize and keep it safe in big containers for people to buy later.

Emmanuel Asiimwe wants policymakers to talk about how to make informal grain trade better. He also said Ugandan grain traders need to follow the rules about grain quality, like Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda do.

Joshua Mutambi, who works with small businesses, told grain traders to follow the rules if they want to sell their grain in other countries. He said they should use new technology like special bags and machines to keep the grain safe and good.

Mutambi also said Uganda makes 5 million tons of grain, with maize being most of it. Half is eaten in Uganda, and the rest is sold, making the country 8 to 10 billion shillings each year.