Uganda’s flower industry is regaining its export volumes thanks to a 4.8 per cent and 2.4 per cent increment in volumes and value, respectively by the end of 2013.
Data from the Uganda Flowers Exporters Association (Ufea), show the country last year exported 6.7 million Kilogrammes (6,773 tonnes), up from 6.4 million kilogrammes (6,444 tonnes) in 2012.
In an interview with Prosper, Ufea executive director Juliet Musoke explains: “We estimate the export sales for 2013 at $37.2 million, up from $36.3 million for 2012.”
“This performance showed a 2.4 per cent increment, and we have been seeing a steady growth since 2010 which saw the lowest volume and sales since 2006,” Ms Musoke added.
The industry also had an opportunity to meet the demand for Ugandan flowers as a substitute for the Kenyan and Ethiopian flowers that were affected by weather and disease in 2013.
There has been an average annual growth of 20 per cent in flower production in Uganda over the last eight years.
Flower exports are the third largest non-traditional export after gold and fish with 14 export farms.
Ms Musoke adds: “In the year ending, direct employment was 8,500. Out of this number, 80 per cent are female while the number of livelihoods supported by the industry is estimated at 51,000 individuals.”
The total investment to date in the sub sector is approximately $80 to $100 million. Foreign direct investment is mainly from the Cutting firms namely: Fiduga (U) Ltd, Royal Van Zanten and Wagagai (U) Ltd.
The industry annually directs back more than $20 million into the economy in the form of taxes wages, infrastructure development.
The industry is facing competition from international exporters. “Our competitors’ have preference on intermediate and T-hybrid roses which have accumulate a good price yet Uganda’s niche is sweetheart roses,” Ms Musoke explains.
The other challenge has been the high demand for a quality flower and compliance to international standards, something which has made doing business expensive as it exerts extra costs on the input.
The high labour turn over is also another challenge which has seen all farms record an increase in labour costs between 35 per cent to 40 per cent of total production costs.