Uganda is yet to lose her market for horticultural exports in Europe if non-compliance with sanitary and Phytosanitary standards are not respected, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja has warned.
Ssempijja, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) added that most exported roses have been restricted at the European Union (EU) because they are infected.
Uganda earns over Shs370b per year from exporting roses and vegetables to the EU block, North America and the Middle East.
According to research from ministries of Agriculture and Trade, there is still more room for growth and expansion of markets for fruits and vegetables in the region and the Middle East. If well managed, existing exports for fruits, vegetables and flowers (FFVs) could be increased by at least 10 times with sufficient investment.
Since Uganda is a signatory in the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and the World Trade Organisation Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (WTO-SPS), all conditions in the agreement must be respected.
According to Ssempijja, Uganda has failed to maintain it which has led to the decline of markets due to the presence of harmful organisms and excess pesticide residues.
While addressing journalists at Media Centre, Ssempijja said if business people do not adhere to the set standards of horticultural products, Uganda stands to lose the most important market for our flowers, fruits and vegetable exports.
“The commodities mainly affected are three; Capsicum (peppers), Annona (Kitafeli) and Roses. The pest problem is the False Codling Moth (FCM),” said Ssempijja.
According to Ssempijja, factors contributing to the increase of interceptions of Ugandan flowers, fruits and vegetables on the EU market are climate change coupled with long dry spells with scattered open production sites has escalated pest incidence (Greenhouses).
The pest in question has a very wide range of hosts (80), makes controlling it very difficult and the use of smallholder farmers scattered over a large area in open fields, as opposed to production in greenhouses.
“We are working hard and we have put in place rigid and serious interventions to avert and protect our export market through some measures,” said Ssempijja.
Such measures include;
Appointing a national task force comprising both private sector and technical staff to specifically guide compliance for F&Vs exports, guide on the development of strategies to ensure Uganda products maintain the current markets, but also penetrate new niche markets.