The Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB), Senior Export Marketing Executive, Brenda Katarihawe, has advised horticulture farmers to always do market research before engaging in production of any crop.
At a one-day passion fruit farmers training at the National Crop Resource Research Institute (NaCRRI), Namulonge last week, she said that it was important for farmers to know the standards and requirements for profit maximization. “Export markets are not lacking. We produce without the market in mind and what we are trying to encourage now is that before you put your seed in the ground, know whom you are producing for,” Katarihwe said.
She said that there was a huge market for fruits and vegetables both within and abroad but farmers must know the right fruit varieties and other standards. For instance, she said that of the 530 passion fruit varieties, a farmer must know which variety is required by what buyer and the suitable packaging.
She revealed that horticulture crops have been identified as having great potential for foreign exchange earnings. These products are the fastest export sub-sectors in the country estimated at 20% per annum.
The Executive Officer of Happy Farmer Agricultural Consultancy (HFAC), Allan Ssempala Kigozi, the organizers of farm training stressed the importance for farmers to have a strategic and reiterated what Katarihwe had said.
Ssempala gave details the details of the requirements, ranging from: the type of seedlings needed, market standards, costs involved, post harvesting and the transportation arrangements.
All these formed the strategic plan, he said. These farm trainings are aimed at empowering farmer, not only with managing pest and diseases, but equipping them with managerial skills, adopting new methods and agricultural practices like irrigation in order to scale up their quality and quantity of production to satisfy the market demands, he added.
Ssempala said that HFAC will continue helping farmers on issues of post-harvest handling.
He pledged that HFAC will follow-up the farmers to their farms for continuous monitoring and guidance. Through this they hope to get better quality products that will attract big markets.
HFAC buys the passion fruit from the farmers. Ssempala said that there is a ready market for passion fruit in Qatar, Egypt, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the European Union.
He revealed that next month, HFAC will head to Soroti, Kumi, and Ngora districts where people cultivate a lot of citrus. He said that HFAC wants to advice those farmers on fighting a certain disease that affects their fruit before ripening them before the full maturity. HFAC also wants to help on how to retain water for the citrus fruits, he added.
The one-day training at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge attracted several companies, such as: Housing Finance Bank.that offers agricultural loans; Davis and Shirtliff and Adritex Uganda Limited, which are specialize in modernized technologies in irrigation; and, MTK Uganda for pesticides, among others.