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Government, Private Sector Partner To Market Organic Products

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The Government, in partnership with Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda, has launched a new model to support the marketing of organic products.

Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of the National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda, said the guide to participatory guarantee system (PGS) was to help producers, and other actors attain organic certification through second-party certification.

The second-party certification involves farmers, consumers, agriculture extension workers and local leaders who come together to verify the farmers’ organic products, to ensure they meet the domestic or African organic product standards.

“Through this, they are able to confirm that the farmers’ products conform to East African organic products standards or any other standard as farmers might find it convenient for them to follow,” Namuwoza said.

This was during the first Agro-ecological Market Systems Expo (AMASE) that was held under the theme ‘Unlocking Barriers and Opportunities for Scaling up Agro-ecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Market Development’.

This was at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala.

The event was organised by PELUM-Uganda in partnership with the trade ministry with support from Netherlands embassy.

Namuwoza said the new system gets Uganda on a new journey to facilitate the certification of the majority of the farmers who have been excluded from global, regional and local markets.

“Consumers are getting concerned about their food safety and health-related issues. Cancers are increasing day by day and there are many health issues coming up every day because of what we eat,” he said.

The partners are working with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to support the certification of the members (farmers, processors, exporters) to attain both the organic and UNBS certifications.

UNBS certification

“That way, a company is more authentic to be able to tap into the domestic and regional market since the UNBS mark is also recognised in the region. It expands the borders within which we would sell our organic products,” Namuwoza said.

The latest statistics indicated that by the end of 2021, Uganda exported over $150m worth of organic products up from about $50m in 2017.

The certified exported organics products include organic coffee, cocoa, oil seeds like sesame, honey, spices like vanilla (fresh and dried), fruits and fruit pulp and juice.

They are sold to different markets, including Europe and Middle East.

Modified crops

Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda, said Uganda’s major partners like the European Union are not interested in genetically modified organisms (GMO) products.

“So, we limit ourselves to a few companies which can buy the GMOs and have the capacity to trade. But that is a big issue because they would dictate the price. They don’t care whether you have made a profit or not,” he added.

While launching the facilitator’s guide, the state minister for trade Harriet Ntabazi, said PGS was timely, especially so when the Government is implementing the Parish Development Model to support the farmers who are still of the subsistence type into the money economy.

“I have to applaud you because there are few people who thought of promoting organic products in Uganda. We became the vice-chairperson representing Africa in the World Trade Organisation because of the kind of products we produce. They are organic products, including coffee, tea, cocoa, fruits and vegetables. We don’t add any genetics to them,” she said.

Ntabazi said there was a big debate in the 10th Parliament on whether to go GMO or organic because organic products take time to yield, while the GMOs yield faster.

“But with the new model of the AMASE and PGS, we hope to see increased production of organic products since the farmers will be assured of the market access domestically, and globally,” she added.

The PELUM country co-ordinator, Josephine Akia Luyimbazi, said the expo focused on how to advance accessibility to agro-ecological, and territorial markets for ‘our products’.

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