Hello Fresh Uganda, an online fresh produce delivery platform in Uganda has, in light of the Covid19 pandemic set out to sensitise women and youth in the agricultural chain of production about food safety.
As one of their CSR initiatives, Hello Fresh identified small holder farmer groups of women and youths in the rural areas, across the different regions of Uganda, who are the target for a skill development sensitisation campaign on safe food production. The sensitisation, according to David Kiyemba, a director of Hello Fresh Uganda, which is currently being done on their digital platforms (website and social media pages) will better the economic welfare of the women and youth in the villages.
“Many small holder farmers lack access to knowledge, which affects their production levels, and consequently, their income levels. We plan to engage them in practical workshops in the future when the Covid19 period is done. One of our major focuses is making them understand the benefits of safe food production, and to open their minds to the possibilities of a more organised production frame work. They will be encouraged to harness horticulture to foster sustainability of their agricultural projects, and to embrace safe food handling to widen their market horizons and income generation capacity,” David Kiyemba stated.
According to Kiyemba, the company plans to do more sensitisations in the form of lectures as well as practical demonstration on various safe food processing and preservation techniques that are currently being taught in theory on their digital platforms.
Many of the farmers admitted to having learned a lot from the ongoing digital sensitisation campaign, and thanked the team at Hello Fresh Uganda for the initiative.
“The trainings are very useful in regards increasing income generation and self-employment. Many of my fellow farmers that can access the Hello Fresh digital platforms attest to the fact that the trainings are empowering. I imagine that the workshops will help us to gain confidence, be more skilled, experienced and ready to harness the opportunities of income generation through self-employment. That is why we are excited to attend the food safety workshops if they come to pass ,” Patra Webombesa, a farmer in Mbale said.
David Kiyemba cited a World Health Organization report that indicated that the African Region has the highest burden of foodborne diseases per population and the highest death rate; with more than 91 million people living in the African Region falling ill each year from foodborne diseases, resulting in 137, 000 annual deaths, a third of the global death toll. After which he called upon individuals, organizations and institutions to partner with Hello Fresh Uganda to join the fight against food borne illnesses and the vices of unsafe food handling.
“We decided to start with small holder farmers and market vendors because we work directly with them, but pertinently, because they are the most involved parties in the food production. But other people should join the race. We are looking to partner with organizations, individuals and institutions to further the sensitisation. Many people in restaurants, homes, markets, hotels, among other places, have failed to adopt appropriate hand washing techniques before food preparation and before eating. People should learn to for example, wash fresh fruit and salad vegetables under clean running, safe water before use; wash and dry utensils for food preparation and cooking; and employ proper washing of cooking and eating utensils using soap after use,” he reiterated to an audience of women and youth farmers that had attended the workshop at one of the farmers home in Masha, Isingiro.