The European Union has threatened to ban fruits and vegetables exported from Uganda citing “harmful organisms” in them.
“Since February 2014, our Embassy in Brusssels has been notifying us of the interception of plants and plant products exported from Uganda to various countries in the European Union [EU],” Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi said in a statement.
According to their report, the interception affect the following products, Peppers [capsicum], roses, curry leaves and various fruits and vegetables.
It is apparent that most of the exporters have been a victim of the interception.
The EU has indicated that the reason for the interception is the presence of harmful organisms in the produce exported from Uganda.
The harmful organisms are the following; African cotton, Leafworm, False codling moth, Trioza SSP and other organisms including fruit flies.
According to EU, if this matter is not addressed urgently and comprehensively, it will impose a ban on our exports to its market.
This will be costly for the country –a loss estimated to be about USD 63.900m.The ban would impact on the lives of farmers in the central, western, northern and parts of the eastern region.
“Given the many notifications of noncompliance that we continue to receive from our Embassy in Brussels, and the submission of the EU Head of mission in our meeting of 28th April 2015,” says Jim.
He said Government has constituted a technical working group consisting of MTIC, MAAIF, UEPB, UNBS, ISO, CAA, ENHAS, URA and District Agricultural Officers all the affected districts to monitor implementation of the action matrix developed to improve compliance;
Government has also resolved to impose a one month self-imposed ban for all produce affected by infestation of undesirable harmful organisms.
The ban is effective from last night at mid night and affects those on the EU blacklist.
“MTIC will meet with all exporters who were affected by the interception on Tuesday 12th may 2015. Uganda Export Promotion Board [UEPB] and the Ministry of Agriculture will register all exporters and farmers of fresh produce affected by the harmful organisms within one month.”
The registration of the exporters will take into consideration the need for each exporters to have a nucleus farm.
Exporters without nucleus farms shall not be registered and the technical working group will undertake inspection of all farms of fresh produce.
Government will also retrain all farmers and exporters by the technical working group and inspect relevant planting materials, including inspection of fresh produce imported from other countries into the country.
“MTIC and MAAIF will develop trace ability guidelines. This will include allocating codes to farmers and districts producing fresh fruits and vegetables while the technical working group shall prepare information paper to be presented to cabinet and parliament on this sensitive matter.”
“A total ban will be issued to any company cleared to export and its consignment is intercepted in EU.
The technical working committee will be meeting monthly and update cabinet through the responsible Ministers namely MTIC and MAAIF,” concluded Jim.
Uganda’s agriculture sector still accounts for over 70 percent of its exports.