The Ugandan government has announced plans to register all farmers and their cattle, including issuing birth certificates for the animals so their products can be traced.
Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, on Tuesday said the international market demands that all countries producing food for the European market should have proof of its traceability.
“They want to know where the [meat and crop] products are coming from. They have been impounding and banning all consignments from Uganda if they find one box with issues,” he said at the official opening of the National Agricultural Show in Jinja, southern Uganda.
“Farmers will be registered and their products given barcodes so that if they find a problem with one box, they look for the source and sort out the problem. We cannot enter lucrative markets unless farmers register.”
Mr Ssempijja added that all the cattle must be registered and given birth certificates.
“For cattle farmers, it is going to be worse. You will be registered as a farmer, the cow will be registered, numbered and will have a birth certificate because the importers of our products demand meat for cows aged between 15 to 24 months. So we are going to sell [the meat] depending on their age,” he added.
According to Mr Ssempijja, an audit team from the European Union is expected in Uganda in September to ensure that all farmers producing commodities destined for Europe are registered.
“Apart from traceability of the products, the team also wants to ensure that farmers benefit directly because many of them are cheated by middlemen. Government will not cater for those who defy the order when it comes to markets,” he announced, refuting allegations that the registration is aimed at imposing a tax on them.
President Yoweri Museveni, in a message delivered by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, said Ugandans need to be more competitive in so they can benefit from the international market.
“People want to know what they are buying to eat, where it is coming from, its quality and what they are spending their money on. Registering farmers is a major requirement; we cannot do without it and if we ignore it, we will lose to competition in the international market,” he said.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Uganda, Mr Antonio Querido, said Uganda needs livestock traceability for better product transaction in the international market.
Agriculture is one of the important sectors for Uganda’s economy in terms of employment, food security and wealth creation, contributing about 25 per cent of the national GDP and employing over 70 per cent of the population.
Its export earnings rose by 9.6 per cent to $3.93 billion between July 2018 and March 2019 – up from $3.59 billion a year earlier.
President Museveni attributed the increase to a raise in export volumes of coffee, tea, maize, beans and the continued investment in agriculture.