DanChurchAid (DCA), a Danish international non-government organization, has set up a development and commercial project named “Fresh Fruit Nexus” in northern Uganda.
The project is aimed at supporting the development of decent employment opportunities for refugees and members in refugee host communities by training small scale farmers to grow certified organic fruits for export.
Speaking at the launch of the project held at the Heritage Park Hotel in Arua, Peter Bo Larsen, DanChurchAid Country Director said the project will benefit over 500 households in the pilot phase, creating over 2150 decent jobs especially for women and children in refugee camps and host communities in Northern Uganda.
“DanChurchAid received a 5 year grant from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) for the Fresh Fruit Nexus project which will support sustainable market development and entrepreneurship in and around refugee camps in Northern Uganda and other neighboring regions as we progress.
With this project, we aim to support over 500 households in Arua and in effect, create an employment chain of over 2150 people,” said Larsen.
Larsen also added that they have identified a ready market for organic fresh fruits in Denmark, which will focus a lot more on equipping the farmers in refugee camps and host communities to grow fruits.
“Through our partners at Bio Fresh Limited, a fair trade exporter, we have identified a market for organic fresh fruits in Denmark and as such will be focusing on equipping the farmers in refugee camps and host communities to grow these fruits, starting with orange peel sweet potatoes for export by sea using Maersk, a trusted transport and logistics company.
This is cheaper and healthier compared to air transport thus, giving the organic fresh fruits a competitive price on the market and enabling us maintain their nutrients.”
Sonia Mwadime, the Director of Bio Fresh Limited while addressing the conference said that, there is a need for the produce to meet the standards set by Nordic, the project’s partner Danish importer in order to meet the market needs and demands.
“A team from Bio Fresh visited Denmark to conduct a market analysis and we quickly realized some challenges such as the type of sweet potato sold in their markets are different from ours based on color, size of the roots and even shape.
We therefore have to work together to ensure that we deliver the grade one size of sweet potatoes required to fill at least one container to be shipped to Denmark.
At the moment, we may not be able to fill a container with only sweet potatoes but luckily, we can add other organic fresh vegetables and fruits to the containers as long as they can be contained within the temperatures required to keep the sweet potatoes fresh.”
Bio Fresh Limited during its discussions with Nordic was able to identify Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, Guatamala, Spain and USA as the main competition in the sweet potato export business to Denmark.
Speaking at the same event, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark inUganda, Henrik Jespersen in his capacity as Guest of Honor congratulated DanChurchAid upon the launch of the project and challenged Ugandans to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available in Denmark so as to foster economic growth and sustainable development.
“There are many opportunities in Denmark. What is lacking is awareness of these opportunities for Ugandans to take advantage of. Investors on the other hand are, like any other investors, wary of the political and economic situations in Uganda and as such are hesitant to invest in the country which goes to show for the minimal number of Danish investors so far. So this project is definitely a welcome venture and I must say DCA is doing quite some impressive work.”
Reports indicate that Uganda is host to over 1,223,033 refugees according to the Office of the Prime Minister as at the end of February 2019.