Farmers and other stakeholders have been advised to harness the opportunities for value addition that have always been explained by H.E. The President, in order to address the challenge of the current falling food prices.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Vincent Ssempijja Bamulangaki, there is currently an increase in food production which has led to big food supply volumes on the market amidst low effective consumer demand and purchasing power.
He says that this has consequently led to the fall in prices of food stuffs like Bananas and cereals, affecting farmers’ household incomes.
“This is largely attributed to the effects of COVID 19 pandemic that have affected distribution and consumption chains in both local (Schools, Hotels and Restaurants) and regional markets (South Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC). I thank the President for initiating value addition on Bananas through the Presidential Initiative for Banana Industry Development (PIBID) located at Nyaruzinga Bushenyi District. At PIBID, fresh Bananas can be processed into Tooke flour, flour for instant porridge, baking flour, biscuits, cakes, cookies. Farmers are encouraged to work hand in hand with PIBID management to add value to their bananas to avoid losses. We welcome other investors in Banana value addition” the Minister said.
He therefore reminded farmers to implement the recommended post-harvest management practices.
He noted that farmers should pay attention to primary processing and storage as the loss is experienced through physical damage, pest infestation and disease contamination that eventually compromise food quality and safety which ultimately lead to poor access to markets and low profitability.
Hon. Ssempijja also appealed to farmers who are preparing to harvest or already harvesting to strictly adhere to the recommended harvesting, post-harvesting, primary processing and storage practices.
“Farmers are advised to harvest crops at the right maturity stages, crops should be handled properly and hygienically. Use clean containers and surfaces to avoid contamination, avoid drying produce on a bare ground and dirty surfaces as this will lead to aflatoxin, dust and foreign materials contamination” the minister advised.
He also told farmers to ensure proper sorting and grading of produce by removing broken, discolored, diseased, molded and physically damage produce before storage, dry produce on clean surfaces like concrete slabs, Plastic sheets, tarpaulins and raised racks or any appropriate drying facility to right storage moisture content that may vary from commodity to commodity and measure moisture content with a simple moisture meter or determine it using the salt bottle method as explained in the post-harvest guidelines already disseminated to all districts in the country.