The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), has begun the process of training and licensing professional fumigators in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and Makerere University, with the goal of promoting quality, safe grain on the market.
Paul Ochuna, the team leader of EAGC, said this move is aimed at saving smallholder farmers from losses incurred during grain handling by equipping them with information, knowledge, and skills regarding the proper safe use of pesticides, speaking at the conclusion of the four-day training of professional fumigators in Kampala.
According to him, they are connecting smallholder farmer organizations with Agro-dealers and providing training, among other things.
He went on to say that as a result of the post-harvest management training, they decided to hire board-certified fumigators because many are dealing with unlicensed workers, putting grain quality at risk.
“We decided to work with Makerere University and the Ministry of Agriculture so that these participants working for various grain handling companies could receive training to become certified fumigators.”
This will help to mitigate the various risks and dangers associated with pesticide use. We all know pesticides are hazardous to human health and the environment, so agro-dealers who handle pesticides should have the necessary knowledge and skills, as well as a certification to handle these chemicals,” he said.
According to Paul Mwambu, MAAIF’s Commissioner of Crop Inspection and Certification, there has been a gap in grain handling, and this is where fumigators come in.
Commissioner of Crop Inspection and Certification at MAAIF, Paul Mwambu
“We need more licensed fumigators who can provide smallholder farmers with knowledge and skills guidance when they come to buy pesticides from Agro-dealer shops,” he said.
He also stated that the training will aid in the elimination of fake and counterfeit agricultural inputs from the market.
Professor Samuel Kyamanywa, a Makerere University professor of entomology who also designed the course on crop, grain, and pesticide handling, said he wanted to close a gap created by pesticide misuse and poor handling.
“Others may see it as a simple thing, and some may even sell them alongside milk, so we thought it would be prudent to start the course to help users understand what they will be using.” “This course will assist in teaching people how to safely handle pesticides without endangering the end-user,” he said.
Professor Kyamanywa said that if there is a link between pesticides and certain diseases, what can be done now is to link pesticide use to an increase in diseases like cancer.
He claims that some studies in other countries have found a link between pesticide residue intake and an increase in cancer and abortions, among other things.
“We don’t have direct results yet, but UNACO is working to get this information out.” They show that pesticides have infested some bodies of water, putting them at risk.”
Fumigation is important in ensuring quality, but it involves the use of dangerous chemicals in the form of pesticides, which can be harmful if not controlled, according to the EAGC’s Director and Regional Vice President.
According to him, only 20% of trade is structured in formal trade, while the remaining 80% is informal, making it difficult to control what is consumed and what is exported.
Professor Kyamanywa giving a speech
He linked this to Uganda’s grain rejections, claiming that 20% of the grain was considered good and 80% was rejected, necessitating interventions such as the training.
A total of 25 people from agro-input dealers and other grain-handling organizations attended the training.