Uganda’s horticultural exports to the European Union risk losing out on revenue if they do not conform to the European safety standards. Some of the export products on the list of rejection include flowers, hot pepper and chillies. The EU is Uganda’s main market for fresh produce.
Horticulture is a non-traditional export for Uganda that has created many jobs and provided a reasonable source of income for many smallholder farmers. The flower industry for instance has created jobs for more than 8,5000 Ugandans.
“There is a notification from Brussels about this matter, and the ministry of Agriculture is now working on an action plan to rectify the matter,” says Mr. Silver Ojakol, the Commissioner of external trade in the Ministry of Trade.
According to the notice from Brussels, Ugandan exporters failed to comply with the phytosanitary certification requirements. The EU found traces of live insects in the mentioned commodities.
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.
“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”, according to Mr.John Lule, chairman of the Horticultural Exporters Association (Hortexa).
“An exporter has to comply with traceability system so that if there is a problem, like a chemical which is dangerous for human consumption was used, it can be linked to its source,” Lule added. He called upon government to arrest this situation to avoid losing revenue and credibility.
The Commissioner for crop resources in the ministry of Agriculture, Dr Okasai Opolot, says that Uganda has agreed to conform to the EU regulations, ‘in order to keep the trade relations’. He says that the government intends to deregister the companies which do not comply with the EU Phytosanitary safety standards.
In 2013 Uganda exported 6500 tonnes of flowers to the EU, with a value of more than 28 million euros.