Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempjja.

Uganda stands to lose the European Union (EU) market for its flowers, fruits and vegetables exports if exporters do not adhere to the set standards, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempjja has warned.

“The country stands to lose this important market for our flowers, fruits and vegetables exports if the business people do not adhere to the set standards,” he said in a statement, adding that commodities mainly affected are peppers, Annona (Kitafeli) and Roses.

Minister Ssempijja said Uganda is experiencing declines in export earnings from some of these commodities, due to non-compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards. “Presence of harmful organisms and excess pesticide residues are the major causes of these rejections,” he said.

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The EU recently warned of Uganda’s quality of horticulture products.

Under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and the World Trade Organisation Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (WTO-SPS) of which Uganda is a signatory, the private sector players in the horticulture sector are supposed to ensure that the standards are met.

According to the minister, Uganda continues to enjoy a significant share in export volumes worth US $100 million(Shs370 billion), per year, for roses, fruits and vegetables to the European Union (EU) block, North America and the Middle East. “There is still more room for growth and expansion to new potential markets for fruits and vegetables in the region and the Middle East, if well managed, existing exports for fruits, vegetables and flowers…could be increased by at least ten times with sufficient investment,” he said.

He said ministry has put in place rigid and serious interventions to avert and protect the export market through the following measures such as appointing a national task force comprised of both private sector and technical staff to specifically guide compliance for fruits and vegetables exports, guide on development of strategies to ensure Uganda products maintain the current markets, but also penetrate new niche markets among others.