The United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda, Lord Dolar Popat, has urged President Museveni to find ways of boosting the quality standards of Uganda’s agricultural products to tap into the vast European market.
In 2016, the European Union (EU) imported almost 93 million tonnes of food from outside the EU, worth a total of €101 billion.
Dolar, accompanied by the British High Commissioner to Uganda, Peter West, met President Museveni at State House, Entebbe on Thursday.
Discussed issues related to investments and economic development between Uganda and Britain especially in the sector of agriculture in which, they noted, Uganda has great potential.
According to a statement from State House, President Museveni informed Lord Popat that Uganda has gone an extra mile in churning out large quantities of agricultural and dairy products “but the challenge is the low prices on the internal market.”
Museveni added that the immediate solution to this challenge is to process them and add value to them for export markets.
“Our farmers and processors of agricultural produce should adapt to the competitive world so that they are not eliminated in marketing,” he stressed.
Lord Popat and High Commissioner Peter West said that all that is required is for the produce from Uganda to “meet both the European Union and United Kingdom uniform standard that pertains to food and beverage importation to Europe.”
Investors consider Uganda’s agricultural potential to be among the best in Africa, with low temperature variability and two rainy seasons in the southern half of the country leading to multiple crop harvests per year.
According to the FAO, Uganda’s fertile agricultural land has the potential to feed 200 million people. Eighty percent of Uganda’s land is arable but only 35 percent is being cultivated.
Agriculture accounted for about 20 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2017/2018, and 43 percent of export earnings, and the UBOS estimates that about 70 percent of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture.
Uganda produces a wide range of food products including: coffee, tea, sugar, livestock, edible oils, cotton, tobacco, plantains, corn, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, and groundnuts.
However, poor quality, post-harvest challenges and inadequate processing facilities have seen farmers consistently grapple with low prices for their commodities.
Lord Popat commended President Museveni for steering a fast, steady and progressive national economy in Uganda.
State Minister for International Affairs, Hon. Henry Okello Oryem, among others, attended the meeting.