By Rhyman Agaba
The Free Zones Authority Uganda has acquired 45 acres of land near Entebbe airport to construct a gamma radiation facility that will boost exports.
A gamma helps in fighting infestations in agricultural products as well as packaging and reduces microbial contamination on certain foods.
Brenda Kabasinguzi, a representative from the Free Zones Authority, said: “Gamma radiation has been widely used in other countries. We are at 40% completion of the facility, which is 100% funded by the Government.”
She made the remarks while addressing members of HortiFresh Association Uganda Limited on Wednesday at Kabira Country Club in Kampala.
HortiFresh, the umbrella apex body for the fresh fruits and vegetables sector, convened the meeting for stakeholders to discuss challenges, trade facilitation, packaging as well as branding and come up with solutions and strategic interventions to address the challenges.
HortiFresh boasts a membership of 120 exporters and brings together various players from the sector.
“The Government is committed to ensuring seamless production,” Kabasinguzi told the exporters, who had earlier on lamented about the massive losses they incur in foreign markets following the destruction of their perishable products that usually arrive late and fail to conform to European standards.
She also revealed that another 190 acres had been acquired “to enable us to expand and accommodate other exporters.”
Uganda Airlines cargo manager Morris Ongwech assured exporters of better services.
The exporters voiced concerns over poor handling by the airline, which result in losses.
The state minister for agriculture, Fred Kyakulaga, observed the need for adherence to high-quality standards for exports.
“On behalf of the Government, this is a platform we recognise. It is an association that other associations and individuals are free to join as long as they aspire to your values such as quality produce for foreign exports,” he said.
Dr James Kanyigye, the director of KK Foods, appealed to the Government to provide the infrastructure that will enable farmers and exporters to survive and thrive in the industry and the foreign market.
Uganda’s fruits and vegetable exports maintained a growth trend amidst the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The latest data from the Bank of Uganda shows that the country exported 83.5 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables worth $45m in 2020 compared to 68.8 million tonnes worth $36m in the previous year.
Data from the Bank of Uganda shows that horticulture exports (fruits and vegetables) have not performed badly. In 2015, the country exported 57 million tonnes worth $32m, 82 million tonnes worth $43m in 2016 and 97 million tonnes worth $38m in 2017.
In 2018, the country exported 95 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables worth $40m, 69 million tonnes worth $36m (2019) and 83 million tonnes worth $45m in 2020.