Uganda’s flower exporters have been challenged to start thinking of diversifying to new market rather than wholly depending on traditional buyers characterized with so many restrictions.
Already according to information from Uganda Export Promotion Board, there is steady demand for the country’s flowers in South Africa and Kenya.
In an interview with Prosper Magazine, Trade Promotion Officer Mr Moses Mabala said: “EU is still an important market for our flower exports and specifically Netherlands which boasts of 80 percent of Uganda’s export market share. We however see that this trend is slowly shifting to regional/African markets.”
He added that they have been noticing a fast growing market trend for Ugandan flowers in South Africa and Kenya, thus opening room for exporters to exploit.
According to Uepb’s export records in the year ending 2013, Ugandan flowers exported outside South Africa earned the country $1.3 million (Shs3.3 billion) this makes it the country’s fourth market destination.
Mr Mabala attributes this trend to the increasing demand and easy logistical issues which gives the exporters more frequent flights which means they spend little money unlike the European market.
The other export destinations for Uganda were Netherlands worth $48.4 million (Shs125.8 billion). Flowers exported to the United Kingdom were worth $2 million (Shs5.2 billion).
The other market destinations for Uganda’s flowers are Germany which brought in $1.6 million (Shs4.1 billion) worth of revenue and Italy with flower export earnings worth $835,000 (Shs2.1 billion) while exports to Kenya were worth $143,000 (Shs371 million) respectively.
Other countries with export potential for Uganda are Russia and Japan.
In 2013, Uganda’s exports of flowers to the world reached $56.4 million (Shs146.6 billion). This indicated a 7 percent growth between 2012 to 2013.
Quantities exported also posted a 3.8 percent growth from 6,400 tons in 2012 to 6,648 tons in 2013.
Uganda’s flower exports represent 0.26 percent of world exports for this product and the country is ranked the 33rd biggest exporter in the world.
Latest statistics for 2014 reveal that flower exports stood at $16.1 million (Shs41.8 billion) in the first quarter of 2014.
In Africa, Uganda is the fifth largest exporter of flowers to the world after Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and South Africa respectively.
Industrial players challenge government to recognise and support the development of the flower industry as a long term policy.
Industrial players say although they are currently benefiting from the 10-year tax holiday that has allowed expansion of production areas by several farms.
However the fiscal incentives alone are not enough to attract new investors or encourage existing investors to expand.
Ms Julie Musoke Uganda Flower Exporters Association (Ufea) said: “Unless there is deliberate government intervention with incentives that attract investors and quick expansion the industry’s growth is likely to stagnate.”
She adds that some of the interventions government needs to put in place for the development of this industry apart from the 10-year tax holiday, the industry needs subsidised air freight, land leased at nominal rates with green house infrastructure, 70 percent investment loans at 6 percent interest rate.