In a bid to increase the quantity of Ugandan fruit exports, the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) is establishing nursery farms and teaching farmers how to handle fruit for export. The news came at a seminar in Kampala aimed at addressing the problems facing the domestic fruit and vegetable industry, organised by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).

Dr. S. Musaana, the Head of Horticulture Research at NARO, explained that the fruit and vegetable farms will be situated in the north and east of the country, and produce would be tested there to guarantee quality. An assurance of improved quality is essential, she said, because farmers often find their export potential constrained because they do not know about the quality levels demanded by European consumers.

“They just export their products to Europe and assume that they pass the quality test. We are trying to train farmers on safe and desirable chemical quantities on their export products. Some exporters put too much chemicals on their products and they end up being rejected in the European markets,” she explained, adding that many producers do not have access to a farm kit to test the chemical content of their produce.

Another issue that must be dealt with, according to Musaana, is the lack of irrigation schemes. This means that production is not constant, and producers face a bottleneck for exports depending on season. “If the irrigation scheme was fully developed in the country, there would be year-round production and year-round income generation by the farmers,” she said.