Demand for food reserves, restriction of marketing of unhealthy foods and food safety in uganda

“90% of the food we eat from the Ugandan markets is contaminated with agro-chemicals, the agricultural practices in growing food need to be checked, we must make sure that the commercialization that come with supermarket must be regulated, government also has a legal obligation to establish national reserve under the constitution and we want Court to order government to establish these food reserves because it is a continuous violation of the right to food.” said Mr. Kabanda David the Execuitve Director of the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) in an interview with BBC Africa (refer to the audio recording rom BBC new attached hereto)

The government of Uganda has a constitutional obligation to establish national food reserves under Objective XXII (b) and guarantee food security and nutrition under XIV (b) of the 1995 constitution. This duty helps to mitigates hunger, malnutrition and ensures that everyone enjoys the right to livelihood.  COVID 19 pandemic has worsened hunger, malnutrition and related deaths in Uganda. Food reserves would have therefore been a critical tool in realising food security especially in times of unforeseen economic hardships or natural calamities like the COVID 19 pandemic.

Following the lockdown that commenced in March 2020, food availability and access were gravely disrupted due to lack of a source of income to purchase food especially for the vulnerable people. Several businesses closed off and many Ugandans who live on a hand to mouth basis were left with no source of food and survival, violating their right to survive

“The fear of dying of hunger was eminent especially to those with chronic illnesses and vulnerable groups like pregnant women, infants and the elderly. It is in times like this that the state should be questioned on the issue of food reserves which the state is obliged to establish as per the provisions of the constitution, but 25 years down the road nothing has been done yet Ugandans continue to face hunger and starvation” said Kabanda David the Execuitve Director of the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT)

It is a sad reality that many vulnerable families are currently eating banana peelings; others are skipping meals or only taking a cup of black tea to survive the whole day. This is a violation of the people’s right to food and the right to livelihood.

Unregulated marketing of unhealthy foods and drink

The food industry enjoys a relaxed food safety system in Uganda with very comfortable taxes and with very limited or no restrictions on front nutrition labeling or marketing of unhealthy foods. As a result, food companies’ marketing promote foods high in fats, sugar and salt, consumption of which should be limited as part of a healthy diet.  The food industry highly targets Children who they influence primarily through three markets: the primary market, as consumers in their own right; the parental market, as children play a major role in influencing what their parents buy, referred to as ‘pester power’ or kid-fluence; and the future market, as children are likely to stick to the consumption habits they acquired as children when they grow older.

Although this is the case, the government, non-state actors and the general public have very little understanding of how diet is causing premature deaths thus the need to talk about this issue and advocate for an environment that promotes healthy diets because everyone has rights to health, safety and wellbeing, and the unregulated practice of trade in food and non-alcoholic beverages is a clear violation of legal obligations to protect children’s wellbeing both at international and domestic levels

Food safety/use of chemicals

There is a global and Africa call for a ban of glyphosate in light with right to health and the right to adequate food, between 2015 and 2019, many countries have put in place full ban on the use of glyphosate and GBHs. UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food has also warned members countries about the adverse effects of agro – chemicals, proving a definitive link between exposure and human diseases and the harm to the ecosystem.

This notwithstanding there is still sale and use of glyphosate-based chemicals on the Ugandan agro -chemical market among the estimated 300 chemicals on the market, 42 are glyphosate based.

Studies show that agro-chemical residues do not degrade quickly in plants and as a result, the residues can occur and remain in food for even a year. It does not wear off even if the food is frozen, cooked or processed, it cannot be removed by washing and it is not broken down by cooking or baking. This implies that Ugandans are consuming unsafe food and this is a violation of the right to safe food and threat to the right to live and health.

Unfortunately, there are no sufficient regulations governing the manufacture, sell and use of agro – chemicals in Uganda and the government has not fulfilled its legal obligation of protecting consumers and availing farmers with adequate information and techniques in the use and application of agro – chemicals to protect them from dangers that accrue from exposure to chemicals.

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