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How to salvage Uganda’s sinking poultry industry

MUHAMMAD K. MAYANJA

It is disheartening to learn that as a country Uganda is soon surrendering the few remaining jobs in the poultry industry to foreigners due to the adulteration of chicken feeds on the Ugandan market. Flavia Nalubega reported in the Daily Monitor of Wednesday 22, August 2012, that low quality feeds were killing Uganda’s chicken trade. Owing to poor quality feeds mixed with sand, Uganda is producing malnourished and small chicken, forcing poultry dealers to opt for imports which are relatively cheap and of high quality.

As a concerned Ugandan who wants to promote job creation, particularly for the many unemployed youths, this development in the poultry industry is to say the least disturbing and frustrating.

First of all the chicken has been in Africa from time immemorial and it is part of our African culture. In Buganda the marriage gifts are incomplete without a cock to the brother-in-law, and one will not get the bride until a chicken is donated. More relevant than this, Uganda is well endowed with basic and low cost raw materials such as maize brand, silver fish, cotton cake, soya and other ingredients for the poultry feeds.

The technology for the poultry industry right from rearing parent stock, hatchery breeding, production of feeds, vaccination and administration of drugs, etcetera is not beyond the ability of this country to master. Chicken is rich fertilizer for agricultural production. Uganda is also strategically located in the centre of Africa to exploit the regional market for chicken product export.

The poultry industry also fits our economic structure in the sense that it offers opportunity for the small scale producers in the informal sector both in the rural and peri-urban areas where the low income group can tap into. Large scale actors such as Ugachick can also invest in the industry. This is one area where the Youth Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Fund scheme which the Government initiated to address youth unemployment can be put to use.

The technology is not all that sophisticated, and it can be mastered even by those who did not go to school. If as a country we have to import poultry products, I don’t know any other industry that we can manage to act in and effectively compete in this globalised economy.

The major problem that is sinking the poultry industry is the untamed greed of business people. This greed in the private sector forms the second side of the coin to the corruption in the public sector. Just as corruption is bringing the public sector to its knees, greed and dishonesty is soon eating up the social fabric of the private sector.

To address this greed or corruption in the private sector, the Government put in place the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS). It is the mandate of the UNBS to ensure that products being sold on the Ugandan market meet the minimum quality standards. If the chicken feeds in the market are adulterated with sand and ashes, or if they lack basic ingredients for nutritious chicken diets, Ugandans have a right to take to task the UNBS.

However when the Uganda National Bureau of Standards’ head of market surveillance, Vincent Ochwo, was asked to explain this phenomenon, his response fell short of a serious answer to such a fundamental issue. He told Daily Monitor that the agency was doing whatever it could to ensure strict adherence to quality products. This explanation remains wanting; we need a convincing explanation from the UNBS on why the chicken feed on the market has been adulterated to the extent that the country is surrendering the poultry industry with all the potential jobs it can create.

At the same time, Government must also intervene. Government is duty-bound to review the performance of the institution it has created to manage the private sector. Is the UNBS empowered legally, financially, and in terms of human resource to execute its mandate? Or is it also afflicted by the cancer of greed and corruption?

Mr. Mayanja is the Chairman of the Justice Forum. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Comments   

 
0 #1 Dr. Umar Kasule 2012-08-24 05:31
Thank you Mr. Mayanja for this serious concern. The Standards Agency had better take this feedback very seriously lest reason for their establishement be abused. The poultry business is where many people seek solace after trying quite a number of business ventures that are very hard to get off the ground! If it could be given the attention Mr. Mayanja suggests, and its primary ingredients is improved, hence leading to its profitability, maybe poverty shall be reduced among many households in the country! I salute you all serious Ugandans.
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