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Ugandan wins Organic Farming Award

Friday, 1st April, 2011

A UGANDAN exhibitor scooped the Best Organic Africa Pavilion award at the just-concluded 2011 World Organic Trade Fair (BioFach) in Germany.

Mansoor Nadir, a director and general manager of Uganda Crop Industries, was the second Ugandan to scoop the award after Gourmet Garden, who took the award in 2010.

“Since the awards were started, Uganda is the only African country that has won the award,” said Charity Namuwoza, the international marketing officer of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU).

NOGAMU is an umbrella organisation that brings together producers, processors and exporters of organic agricultural products in Uganda.

The African countries that participated in the four-day BioFach 2011 exhibition were Kenya, Cameroon, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt. Thirteen Ugandan companies were represented.

“For the last three years, we have been organising Uganda’s participation in BioFach. We secured 61 square metres of stand space,” explained Namuwoza.

He said the main aim of participating in the exhibition was to increase global awareness of Ugandan organic products.

“In this exhibition, Ugandans get new customers and ideas on how to package and present their products,” Namuwoza explained.

“Three Uganda export companies; Flona Commodities, Sulma Foods and Zigoti Coffee Works got orders during the exhibition,” he said.

Sulma Foods has already shipped 2.1 metric tonnes of pineapples, avocado and sweet potatoes worth about sh9m ($3,848).

In addition, inquiries of assorted dried fruits worth sh144m (about $60,000) per month were registered, but only 800kg can be delivered per month, Namuwoza said.

Flona Commodities met three buyers of fruit juice and pulp, who indicated a demand of 180 metric tonnes per month.

The existing buyers placed additional orders of three metric tonnes of fruit pulp per year and 700kg of dried fruits per month to Austria, Japan and Nairobi.

Zigoti Coffee Works received an order for 19metric tones, estimated at sh12,000 ($5) per kg. There are negotiations for six more containers of Arabica coffee, which are yet to be finalised, he added.

Zigoti sold out Arabica coffee before the end of the exhibition, Namuwoza said.

Flona Commodities and Sulma Foods registered more interests for dried fruits, fruit pulp and juices.
“The biggest challenge for these forms of products continues to be lack of processing equipment,” he added.

Namuwoza said inquiries were also made on herbs, spices and essential oils.

“An evaluation conducted after the exhibition indicated that many Ugandan companies were overwhelmed with buyers and orders,” he said.

In total, 450 business inquiries were obtained, of which 152 were categorised as serious contacts by the exhibitors.

“What remains to be done is to ensure that Ugandan exhibitors follow up on the serious contacts,” Namuwoza stressed.

Nadir said Uganda used backcloth, photographs of farmers and a bird nest to decorate their stand.

“The product samples were well arranged in a way that attracted buyers. Ugandans are also soft-spoken welcoming people compared to other Africans,” Nadir said.

He said the exhibition gives Ugandans a platform were they can be recognised by the international community.

Namuwoza, who coordinated the Africa Pavilion, worked closely with the organisers to ensure that the exhibitors received potential buyers and established trading relations.

The BioFach exhibition takes place every February under the patronage of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

BioFach operates in five continents and holds events in Japan, the US, South America, China and India.

Uganda’s organic exports have been increasing over the years.

“Despite all the problems, Uganda’s participation in BioFach 2011 was successful. The participants had their products professionally presented and exposed to as many potential buyers as they could get hold off,” Namuwoza said.

Challenges faced

Serious buyers appreciated the quality of Uganda’s organic products, but are still dissatisfied with the low available volumes of the products and the limited range.

The high freight costs continue to reduce the competitiveness of Ugandan fresh products on the international markets.

Many exporters still face challenges of limited quantities of products, attractive product packaging and presentation.

By John Kasozi

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