Experts in food and agriculture sector are meeting in Kampala to discuss standards for fresh fruits and vegetables including garlic, potatoes and eggplants, kiwi fruits and fresh dates to look into ways of addressing the challenges Uganda has been facing in penetrating the lucrative international markets due to non-compliance with international standards.
The Codex Committee on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (CCFFV) which is hosted by the Government of Uganda together with the Government of Mexico has attracted over 200 delegates from 50 countries will end on 6 October 2017.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, said: “Although trade in fresh fruits and vegetables has been growing steadily over the last five years, Ugandans have continued to face challenges penetrating the lucrative international markets due to non-compliance with international standards”.
Uganda has been effectively participating in developing standards related to quality and safety of food and agricultural products.
“The implementation and application of relevant codex standards, has helped Uganda’s exports to penetrate key markets in the various food sectors significantly fruits and vegetables, and fishery products,” Hon. Kyambadde said.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said: “The meeting comes at a time when the government is in the process of streamlining the national food control system in order to respond to current and emerging food safety issues.”
Fresh fruits and vegetables from Uganda are mainly exported to the European Union (The United Kingdom, German, Belgium and Netherlands), Middle East, USA and the East African Community (EAC) region. Statistics from Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) show that in 2015 Uganda exported 7,900 tonnes of fruits worth USD3.2 million and 12,000 tonnes of vegetables worth USD127 million.
Uganda is a member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), an international food standards body which was formed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Hosting the international meeting on standards for fresh fruits and vegetables will enable sharing of information and best practices in the production of the commodities which will go a long way in improving international trade,” Hon. Kyambadde said.
Dr Aceng added: “Uganda has a fully established and functional Codex structure that is multisectoral in nature and takes lead in advising the government on matters of food safety in the country. We have put in place mechanisms to ensure that the mandate of Codex Alimentarius (CAC) of ensuring consumer health protection and fair trade practices is realized in the country.”