Stakeholders in Uganda’s agricultural sector have been urged to take on agro- processing as one way of meeting market demands and stimulating economic growth.
Noreen Kamoti, the senior trade information executive at Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), while speaking at the ongoing export week, said despite local agricultural products enjoying a competitive edge in global markets, the country still loses a significant portion of its export revenue due to their semi-processed state.
Kamoti revealed that some importers of Ugandan coffee most notably from Sudan merely add final touches to our gravy beans before re-exporting them to other countries as finished products, scooping overwhelming profits in the end.
As a matter of urgency, she says that exporters must ensure that their goods are fully processed to meet global market standards before hitting shelves if Uganda is to curtail on its negative agriculture balance of payment and create more jobs in the end.
“Because of various interactions, networking and support from government, we expect this figure (export revenue) to increase significantly. As you are aware the target market for our coffee beans is the European Union especially Italy; in the COMESA we have Sudan but what is interesting is that in Sudan they import our coffee beans and then re-export them as processed product”, she said.
In relation to accessible markets, Kamoti says apparently local manufacturers can ably export their products to 52 duty free countries thanks to a number of bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements in place. However, she advised export firms to seriously focus on branding, packaging and positioning if Ugandan commodities are to stand any chance in these competitive markets.
“The processing bit goes with branding and processing. This is so because you your product must be appealing to customers. But we should also work together on how to position our products”, she adds.
More so, she says unlike semi-processed commodities, processed goods are not subject to price fluctuation for profit maximization.
According to 2019 statistics from Bank of Uganda titled “Key agriculture and agro-processed exports”, coffee, fish, sugar and maize fetched Uganda 436, 171, 108 and 106 million USD in export revenue.