Floriculture In Uganda: Hidden Gold

Masterpiece Floriculture flowers Masterpiece Floriculture flowers

According to Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the Floriculture sector is one of Uganda’s top ten foreign exchange earners contributing close to $ 30 million in export revenue. The sector grew from a single 2 hectares farm in 1992 to 20 farms covering 192.1 hectares in 2009. Investment in the sector stands at over $54 million employing more than 6,000 people. The sector produces over 40 varieties mainly – Roses (70%), Chrysanthemum cuttings (25%) and potted plants (5%).

The main flower growing areas in Uganda are in the central region around the Lake Victoria basin – in districts such as Mpigi, Mukono and Wakiso. Other flower growing areas are in South Western Uganda plus Ntungamo District and Kapchorwa District in Eastern Uganda. The volumes and value of the flower exports have grown from 3,000 tonnes worth US$14.61 million in 2000 to 5,349 tonnes worth an estimated $30 million. The escalating growth trends in flower exports have positioned Uganda among the top five largest exporters of cut flowers in Africa.

Competitive strengths in the sector

Some of the factors that favour the sector includes ideal climatic conditions for flower growth and production, Uganda’s hot humid temperatures around Lake Victoria basin are ideal for the growth of short stem roses (sweethearts), chrysanthemum cuttings and potted plants. As a result, investors do not incur any production costs on heating and agreements provide for non-reciprocal trade arrangement for ACP countries including Uganda. Flower exporters, therefore, benefit from preferential tariffs to the European markets.

Stringent quality standards regime

The floriculture sector is very well regulated and meets the highest European product safety and quality standards. The sector has developed a landmark regulatory framework, the Uganda Code of Practice for the Horticulture Sector, which specifies strict guidelines for farmers and managers in occupational safety, worker welfare, discrimination, and equal pay. In addition, flower growers use production techniques associated with hydroponics, recycling, irrigation, filtration, and sterilization to allow for rational attainment of high quality flowers for export.

Export market demand

The main flower products traded in the world markets are roses and carnations and chrysanthemums, accounting for about 50% of the world cut flower trade. The main export destination for Uganda’s flowers is the European Union particularly Netherlands/Holland. The Netherlands through the Dutch auction is the leading buyer of cut flowers and foliage, with a value of 56% cut flowers and foliage imported from external sources outside the EU and 61% in terms of volume. The Dutch auction has made Europe the major source of world flower exports. African countries are rapidly becoming major sources of flowers with countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia contributing sizeable export volumes to complement those already produced in Colombia, Ecuador, Thailand, and Israel. Uganda produces 60 per cent of the chrysanthemum cuttings exported to the Netherlands (UFEA). This implies that for every bunch of 10 chrysanthemums bought in Holland, six are imported from Uganda. Ugandan flowers are further redistributed within the Netherlands to importers in other European countries such as Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and Germany. Other important markets are the United Arab Emirates and the USA.

Investment Opportunities

Investment opportunities in the flower sector include:

• Expansion of other floricultural plants for example “summer flowers”, fresh foliage and grasses required for bouquets, bulbs, tubers and live plants;

• Production of propagation material;

• Establishment of soil analysis laboratory and services;

• Manufacture of greenhouse plastics;

• Manufacture of packaging materials and;

• Other inputs: Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides that are currently imported at high costs.

 Setting up a 6ha Flower Plant

The cost of setting up a 6-hectare Rose farm is approximately $ 1.5 million Successful investors in the sector have however invested up to $ 3 million. Other necessary requirements include a pre-cooling area, cold store, materials store, pump room, workshop, store for fertilizers and pesticides and staff housing.

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