KAMPALA – Nutritionist experts and food scientists want government to control the importation of food items in the country saying some of these may expose Ugandans to diseases.
The experts were attending the launch of the policy brief on preventing Nutrient loss and Waste across the food System produced by the Global panel on Agriculture and Food System for Nutrition (GLOPAN) at the Speke Resort Munyonyo on Tuesday November 13.
They noted that some food Items imported into the country lack the necessary nutrients since majority are industry processed one.
GLOPAN is an independent group of influential experts with a commitment to tackling global challenges in food and nutrition security.
Associate Professor Dorothy Nakimbugwe from the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition Makerere University said government should strengthen regulations relating to food importation to stop Uganda from becoming a dumping ground for junk food products.
“We need to protect our nationals from consuming junk foods being imported into the country. If it is not regulated, junk food will expose Ugandan to diseases which in the long run affects the labour productivity majorly of the younger generation,” she said.
Junk food is a pejorative term for food containing a large number of calories from sugar or fat with little dietary fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.
She observed that consuming nutritious foods is critical in human development thus the government should safeguard the lives of its people by ensuring that only food items rich with nutrients are imported into the country.
Discussing the policy brief, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime the former Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union said the increasing incidences of food loss and waste of nutritious foods need to be addressed due to its economic Impact on the economies of various African states .
“Reducing loss and waste of nutritious foods would yield substance benefits far beyond addressing hunger and malnutrition to encompass economies and natural environment. The gains made would contribute to the efficiencies needed to address climate change,” she elaborated.
The policy brief examines the many ways in which food loss and waste occurs across the food system; from agricultural production to processing and packaging, storage and transportation, among other processes.
Preventing food loss and wastage
It also directs policy makers on what intervention should be taken in order to mitigate the issues of food loss and waste. Among the priority areas for action the policy brief produced by the Global panel on Agriculture and Food System for Nutrition suggests that governments should take the following actions:
Encouraging innovation solutions to protect nutrients, the brief notes that innovation technologies have great potential to protect nutrients from farm to fork and tackle losses of perishable , nutritious foods in lower income countries. Other solution is the Improving public and private infrastructure for well-functioning and efficient food system.
The policy brief notes that Efficient market, storage, cold Chains and processing infrastructure can play vital role in helping to avoid losses.
“Given that public funds for these actions may be limited, government should consider promoting an enabling environment for the private sector by ensuring friendly business legal and regulatory flame work are in place,” the policy brief suggest in a part.
During the launch, participants said Uganda losses about 40% of her agricultural harvest through harvest loss; this means that Uganda is losing about 15% of the sector, Gross Domestic Product Contributions.
Dr. Dick Kamugunga, the president of Uganda National farmers Federation asked Government to support small holder farmers to adopt more technologies that can support them to reduce nutrient loss and food waste.
Launching the policy brief, the Minister for state in charge of Northern Uganda Grace Kwiyucwiny said government is committed to ensure that the problem of food loss is worked on, but noted that for the government to succeed all stakeholders should play their roles.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO