KAMPALA – In most cases our leaders put the highest emphasis on increasing agricultural production as a way of developing our country’s economy.
They speak about more application of fertilizers and planting high yielding seed varieties. They want agricultural services extension officers to teach our farmers to use modern farming technologies for bigger harvests. It would seem that agriculture is all about achieving higher quantities and bigger volumes.
However, much as it is true that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, it must be born in mind that as food producers, farmers play an important role in the health and wellbeing of the citizens. Plenty of attention ought to be paid to the way farmers handle food crops to ensure that they don’t cause illnesses to the consumers. A lot of money is spent on medicine to cure illnesses arising from consumption of food contaminated by careless handling by farmers. Part of the poverty that we experience is caused by illnesses related to unclean food and therefore failing to work.
Farmers must be well educated about the importance of cleanliness in food harvesting, storage, processing and transportation, otherwise referred to as good standards of hygiene and sanitation. Disease-causing micro-organisms or germs can get into contact with foodstuffs such as fruits, potatoes, vegetables, milk, fish, and meat. Mostly germs thrive in soil and running rainwater. They easily gain access to foodstuffs placed on the ground or on any unclean surface. Germs also exist in animal and human excreta. When oranges or vegetables are placed on the bare ground they get exposed to germs which may be transferred to people who eat the items without properly cleaning them. The farmers must maintain clean milking parlours and milk containers to keep away germs.
All farming households must have clean and well maintained deep pit latrines and hand washing implements. They should have proper waste disposal systems which minimize multiplication of flies, rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes. They should wash their hands with soap before handling all foodstuffs intended for sale or for home consumption. They should avoid sneezing into foodstuffs and frequent trips to the latrine during food handling. Germs cause decomposition of meat and milk, giving them a bad smell.
Farmers must be well trained to use agro-chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides so that they don’t pass on the poisons to food consumers.