The flower industry, once Uganda’s promising export revenue earner ranked among the top five market leaders, is gradually showing signs of recovery to its glory.
Latest information from the industry shows that, against all odds, the country’s export volumes increased in the year ending 2016.
In an interview with Prosper Magazine Uganda Flower Exporters Association (UFEA)’s executive director, Ms Juliet Musoke, said: “This year we exported more flowers compared to the previous year 2015.”
In 2015 the country through UFEA members exported 6,300 tonnes of flowers worth $27.5 million (Shs99 billion).
Ms Musoke shared that in the year ending 2016 UFEA exported more than 6,500 tonnes of flowers, 200 tonnes more than what was exported the previous year.
She, however, was not able to relay how much the country will earn in terms of revenue until the final computation is done.
The industry, just like many other sectors, has suffered inflation pressures, high interest rates, the costly business environment and stiff competition from the region, especially Kenya and Ethiopia at the global market.
In an interview, the proprietor of Rosebud (U) Ltd, the leading exporters of Rose flowers, Mr Sudhir Rupaleria, just like Ms Musoke was optimistic about the industry’s performance this year.
He said: “Business until May last year was very bad. However, it improved from May onwards to December. The New Year looks better than 2016.”
Uganda has been involved in commercial floriculture for more than 20 years, this commodity is ranked among the top non-traditional export earner of the country.
Because of this, Uganda has been ranked the fifth largest flower producer in Africa.
So far the total investment is more than $80 million (Shs288 billion). More than $20 million (Shs72 billion) is directed back into the economy through taxes, wages, and infrastructure development.
The industry employs about 8,500 people, with 80 per cent female.
The country has about 15 flower farms with 250 production area. This makes it an average of 30 people per hectare.
Ms Musoke said in order to see change in the industry, government ought to respond to their long pending demand to give them subsidies since most of their competitors in the market are given subsidies, such as Ethiopia which gives investors a helping hand.
Airfare charges are also still very costly for them and the industry needs incentives to expand.
The amount of money Uganda earned in export of flowers in 2015 was Shs 99b.