UGANDA – After a high-stakes showdown between the Republic of Uganda and South Sudan that has stalled the importation of cereals over safety claims, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has announced that the majority of tracks carrying grain have passed aflatoxin tests.
According to UNBS, out of the 23 tracks and 27 contested consignments tested so far, 18 tracks and 22 consignments have successfully passed the tests.
These tracks were part of the 90 vehicles held in South Sudan over a month ago on allegations of transporting foods contaminated with Aflatoxin B1. The commodities included maize grain, maize corn, dry beans, sorghum grains, cassava flour, and finger
Aflatoxin B1, a toxic and carcinogenic compound produced by certain fungi, is classified as a known human carcinogen and can lead to severe health issues, including liver cancer.
Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of UNBS, explained that these commodities were tested according to the East African Community standards agreed upon by all member states, including South Sudan.
Ebiru stated that out of the 23 trucks, four out of the eight carrying maize grains failed the test. Among the 12 trucks carrying maize flour, one failed. However, both consignments of beans passed the test, along with three for sorghum, one for millet grain, and one for cassava flour.
“As you have seen, the failure majority were for maize grain, four of the five were grain, and only one was flour therefore our maize grain remains exposed to quality standards and our appeal is that people should focus on value addition, converting them to flour to minimize the exposure,” he added.
Harriet Ntabaazi, the Minister of State for Trade stated that several measures have been implemented and more are being developed to address the issue of exporting and selling substandard food, as South Sudan is the second country in the region to intercept Ugandan grain for similar reasons.
She warned that the government would not allow the loss of the South Sudan market due to the actions of a few irresponsible individuals. She highlighted the importance of the South Sudan and DR Congo markets, which the government is targeting.
For the consignments that failed the test, the minister mentioned that they would be destroyed, and the owners would be engaged to determine the source of these products.