Are farmers ‘poisoning’ the people they are supposed to feed?
Posted Wednesday, February 20 2013 at 00:00
After the gun, the next thing Ugandans have to demystify is poison. People no longer fear getting shot. Instead they fear being poisoned.
Top politicians and business people now shun food and drinks served at public functions for fear of being poisoned. The phobia has even spread among religious leaders.
In one of the leading local churches, the leaders pack their food and when going for fellowship, claiming to be on special diet recommended by their doctors. The truth however is that they fear poison.
Fuss about poison
In the armed forces, poison is only rivaled by witchcraft. The joke among men in uniform is that discounting the bullet, which is a professional hazard, there are only two causes of death in the forces; poison and witchcraft. It is even worse in the glamorous but also ruthless corporate and sporting worlds
As a farmer, I cannot help but laugh at all this fuss over poison. If only Ugandans knew the amount of poison they willingly ingest each time they sit down to enjoy a sumptuous meal, they would stop all this fussing.
From farm to plate
This is poison administered by the least likely suspect; that enterprising farmer who spends the whole day out in the sun working hard to feed the nation.
To keep their crops and livestock healthy and productive, farmers are using large quantities of chemicals, some of which are dangerous to human life. It is ironical that Ugandans are taking precautions to let no poison into their food, without realising that the food is already poisoned anyway.
To appreciate the amount of poison we take in everyday in the name of food, we need to retrace the journey of some of the common foods, from the farm where they are produced, to the plate where they are finally eaten.
The best examples are chicken for the livestock and tomatoes for the crop sector. Poultry farming is a high risk business. A disease outbreak on the farm means financial disaster for the farmer. Treating sick the birds is costly. And even if they survive, their productivity goes down.
To ensure they remain healthy and productive, many farmers keep their birds on medication through ought their lives. They liberally dose their birds with antibiotics, commonly referred to as capsules, meant for human beings.
The birds raised on antibiotics will probably remain healthy and productive, but the people consuming their products are in effect taking slow poison, which will eventually affect their health.
Continuous consumption of poultry products containing small doses of antibiotics will eventually make your body resistant to antibiotics, which is a very dangerous situation.
Some farmers use the right veterinary drugs, but ignore the instructions stipulating that products from birds that are on certain medications are not fit for human consumption, until a certain time period has elapsed.
Chicken and tomato
Instead when farmers realise their birds are not responding to treatment, they dispatch them to the market, jokingly referred to as “Wakiso referral hospital” That way the farmer does not lose out completely. Now for the tomatoes.
Probably the most commonly consumed food item, a staple in most recipes, the tomato is also one of the most tainted, taking in all sorts of poisonous chemicals, on its way from the farm to your plate.