Uganda’s horticultural exports face EU ban

A florist prepares roses for export. Flower exports from Uganda are among the commodities that could be affected by the European Union standards. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

Jobs. Commercial floriculture which started in 1993, employs about 8,500 people

Uganda’s horticultural export commodities risk losing out on revenue from the European Union market if they do not conform to their safety standards.

Some of the export commodities on the list of rejection include flowers, hot pepper and chillies.
Horticulture as a non-traditional export for Uganda had not only brought hope to the lives of many smallholder farmers as a source of income but also created jobs. Flowers, for instance, have created jobs for more than 8,5000 Ugandans.

In an interview with Prosper magazine, the Commissioner of external trade in the Ministry of Trade, Mr Silver Ojakol, said a notification from Brussels-Belgium, one of Uganda’s major EU market destinations has been issued to Uganda.

“There is a notification from Brussels about this matter and the line ministry of agriculture is working on an action plan to rectify the matter,” Mr Ojakol shared.

According to information in the notification from Brussels, Ugandan exporters failed to comply with the phytosanitary certification requirements.

The standards
Ideally a phytosanitary certification is issued to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet specified import requirements and are in conformity with the certifying statement of the appropriate model.

In the notification, Belgium found traces of live insects in the mentioned commodities, something which is risky to human lives.

According to the Horticultural Exporters Association (Hortexa) chairman, Mr John Lule, “There are so many middlemen who have failed to follow the traceability system and instead just buy commodities from any farmer. This has ruined the quality of exports,” he says

“An exporter has to comply with traceability system so that if there is a problem-say if a chemical which is dangerous for human consumption was used, it can be linked to its source,” Mr Lule added.

He called upon government to arrest this situation to avoid losing revenue and credibility.

Government’s reactions
The Commissioner for crop resources in the ministry of Agriculture, Dr Okasai Opolot, in an interview with Prosper magazine, said: “We have agreed to conform to the EU regulations in order to keep the trade relations.”

He said government intends to deregister the companies which do not comply with the EU Phytosanitary safety standards.

Numbers about Uganda’s flower exports
6,500 tonnes :Export volume of flowers in 2013.

Shs95 billion: Amount of revenue Uganda earned from exporting flowers in 2013.


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