Uganda is the second-largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables in Africa with 5.8 tons of exports per year; only second to Nigeria. The Horticulture sector in Uganda employs an increasingly large number of people with exports worth USD36 million per year. The sector also presents immense opportunities for increasing household incomes, improving nutrition of the people, export diversification and provision of raw materials for various agro-based industries.
Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) engaged Horti-Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Association members to discuss the opportunities and benefits in the Free Zones Scheme for their sector and to mobilise them to attain higher export volumes and values while improving on the quality of the products. The sector has continuously faced several challenges leading to an increasing number of interceptions of the country’s export consignments mainly in the European Union (EU). The Association is also constrained by limited financing.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of Horti-Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Association, Mr. Fred Zake, noted that the air cargo rates are too high and requested UFZA to engage Uganda Airline on possibilities of providing subsidized rates to the Association members. He thanked Government for constructing Entebbe International Airport Free Zone which will provide cold storage facilities for the fresh fruits and vegetables for exporter.
Free Zones in Uganda provide a sustainable solution to the very core issues affecting the horticulture sector as well as an opportunity for the sector to tap into the 2-billion dollar global market.