Increased global demand for local plum-red, glossy-looking hot peppers from Uganda is heating up, causing more farmers to invest in the commodity.
This demand shows that there is a strong export potential for farmers here only if strong mechanisms are established by government to satisfy the demand.
Experts say the success s of this development is destined to see hot pepper export volumes and value grow in addition to improving the livelihood of the farmers through increased incomes.
According to statistics available from the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEBP), in 2013, the global demand for pepper increased to $3.49 billion (about Shs9 trillion) up from $3.31 billion (about Shs8.6 trillion) exports.
Mr Moses Mabala, UEPB’s trade promotion officer, in an interview with Prosper magazine said: “We have also seen increased inquiries for hot pepper supplies from markets like France and Italy that Ugandan farmers can exploit.”
Mr Mabala is optimistic that both volumes and value will increase this year judging from the people who inquire about the information on how to grow and where to market the commodity.
Uganda’s main market for hot pepper is India, Spain, Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Globally, United States of America (USA) is the leading consumer of hot pepper, followed by Germany and Vietnam respectively.
Hot pepper is one of Uganda’s non-traditional exports under horticultural commodities.
Current statistics indicate that in 2013, Uganda exported 404 tonnes of hot pepper, up from 353 tonnes exported the previous year.
However, there was a drop in the export value in 2013 when the country earned $1.7 million (Shs4.4 billion), down from $2.2 million (Shs5.7 billion) earned in 2012.
Mr Godfrey Lule, the chairman of Hortexa— an association of horticultural exporters in Uganda and a major farmer and exporter of hot pepper to Netherlands shares: “Hot pepper is becoming a major cash crop in the country judging from the increased number of farmers growing.”
He said currently, there are more than 1,000 farmers involved in the production of the commodity, up from a mere 15 farmers who started growing the crop in the late 90s.
Mr Lule said many farmers from Mbarara, Greater Mpigi District, Wakiso, and Central Uganda and now in Arua have started growing the commodity.
HOT PEPPER DATA 2013
Markets for hot pepper exports
Value ($) Export share (%) Growth in value (%)
World 1,744 100 16,098
India 263 15.1 6658
Spain 223 12.8 32,954
Netherlands 213 12.2 36,962
Germany 212 12.2 30,530
Italy 196 11.2 5,4011
U.K 180 10.3 28,189
France 103 5.9 19,895