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Agricultural ministry concerned about EU ban on Uganda agro exports

By John Masaba

Added 23rd August 2019 08:14 PM

This is after the EU reportedly rejected and subsequently destroyed several consignments of agriculture exports shipped to Europe recently.

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Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja. Photo/File

This is after the EU reportedly rejected and subsequently destroyed several consignments of agriculture exports shipped to Europe recently.

AGRICULTURE     EXPORT

KAMPALA - Officials in the Agriculture ministry are worried about the looming ban on Uganda’s fresh food exports, which could hit the country’s horticulture sector hard.

This is after the EU reportedly rejected and subsequently destroyed several consignments of agriculture exports shipped to Europe recently.  

EU reportedly accuses Uganda of exporting poor quality products and also of shipping products that presented with high contents of poorly mixed agrochemicals used to treat or preserve them.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja revealed that the EU has resolved to audit the sector in October for compliance with international and EU Health standards.

If the products fail the audit, Uganda could be slapped with a ban for non-compliance with EU Phytosanitary (plant health) standards.  

According to Ssempijja, Uganda has on several occasions received warning over severe chemical contamination of horticulture exports over the last four years. 

In 2015, the government announced a self-imposed ban on the export of vegetables, especially pepper, to EU following a similar looming ban. Had Uganda not acted fast, the EU would have gone on to ban the vegetables, which would have made it hard to regain access to the market.

Ssempijja said they will launch a compulsory countrywide registration of farmers in a bid to regulate standards.

“In an event like this we can accurately track down the produce to the exact farmer,” he said.         

Every imported item into EU is checked to verify if it conforms to the set standards. Items that fall short of these standards are intercepted. According to the EU, the measures are vital to protect human and animal health.  

Agriculture accounted for about 20% of Gross Domestic Product in fiscal year 2017/2018, and 43% of export earnings.

According to a US online platform, 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. 

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