UGANDA – The Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) plans to boost inspection controls for avocado, banana, and pineapples to improve export quality.

By classifying these crops as high-risk commodities, the ministry aims to match the standards set for other products like hot pepper, chili, and garden eggs.

This new measure falls under the Department of Crop Inspection and Certification’s jurisdiction within the ministry. Alexander Samula, a senior crop protection and certification officer at MAAIF, announced the initiative at the opening ceremony of Victoria Horticultural Exporters, a new entrant in the industry.

Samula emphasized the need for intervention to improve the quality of these crops. He stated that the traceability regime would extend beyond product assessment to include the entire production process.

He called for collaboration among industry stakeholders, including exporters like Victoria Horticultural Exporters, to ensure quality control from the farm level.

Compliance with these new standards can be costly, but Samula advocates for collective efforts between exporters and the government. This approach aligns with the ministry’s goal to promote compliance and market-driven regulatory standards, focusing on traceability through a lead farmer approach.

Limited availability of export-quality horticultural products has been a long-standing obstacle for emerging horticultural export businesses, particularly due to frequent interceptions in the European market.

Hassan Miiro, Managing Director of Victoria Horticultural Exports Limited, highlighted the challenges his company faces due to a lack of exportable products. For example, large avocado plantations often produce minimal quantities suitable for export.

Miiro also noted the potential of export markets and his company’s dedication to helping small-scale farmers improve their practices. The company aims to meet market demands, including orders for banana plantains, currently on hold until a reliable supply chain is established.

Miiro attributes the challenges to a lack of awareness among smallholder farmers regarding exportable products and inadequate production and marketing tracking systems.

Substandard agricultural practices and overreliance on the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) further complicate matters.

To address these issues, the exporter has partnered with agro-input dealers to improve product quality, with initial project implementation planned in Masaka.

Everest Mulumba, an Agribusiness Development Officer at NAADS, emphasized the need for exporters to improve operational standards to match international benchmarks.

He pointed to examples from Kenya, where pack houses have been designed to meet global standards. Mulumba reaffirmed NAADS’ commitment to supporting exporters like Victoria Horticultural Exporters.

He acknowledged their key role in advancing Uganda’s agricultural sector by connecting farmers with markets.

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