Kampala, Uganda |URN | The Government of Uganda has advised farmers to take seriously complaints from regional and international markets about the quality of Ugandan produce.
Ugandan products have undergone a series of rejection over the last three years from the regional markets of Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania over quality concerns and dumping.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaijja says the country is facing a problem of market for local goods which has resulted in surplus, yet farmers are ignoring calls for change. Some of the rejected products include milk, eggs, sugar and maize among others.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Uganda produces 510,000 tons of sugar. However, only 360,000 tons are consumed locally. The surplus of 150,000 tons is exported within East Africa, COMESA regions and DR Congo.
However, due to the import restrictions in neighbouring countries over quality concerns, over 50,000 tons of sugar are flooding causing a drop in the price from 150,000 to 130,000 for a 50 kg bag of sugar.
Agriculture Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says Uganda’s agricultural surplus is temporary, adding that they have embarked on the implementation and expansion of the agro industrialization to address the quality challenges.
Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary says that the government is investing over 200 million pounds [over a trillion Ugandan Shillings] in post-harvest handling, sensitization and value chain agenda to boost the quality of the products for export.
Wakabi says that they are now looking at taking the Nucleus farmer model to all parts of the country to ensure bulk production. The nucleus farmer’s premises are designed to host a demonstration of certified inputs and best practices on input usage.
This will help farmers around them to access credit and have the same output in terms of quality for exports.
Julian Adyeri Omalla, a commercial farmer and managing director of Delight Uganda, the producers of Cheers juice is a nucleus farmer. He has signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with government through the ministry of agriculture to train farmers in Northern Uganda.
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Julia owns 1,700 hectares of farmland on which he grows mangoes and citrus working with over 500 out-growers in Lungulu sub-county in Nwoya district. In this memorandum, the government is to construct a Shillings 30 billion fruit juice factory.
Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director Private Sector Foundation Uganda advises the farmers to embrace research and work under organized groups that understand the market dynamics for countries to appreciate their goods.
Uganda has had several meetings with regional heads to forge a way out of the ban, but the fruits seem slow. Recently, Kenya allowed importing several metric tons of sugar from Uganda.