Uganda has launched a project aimed at restoring vital access routes to oilseed facilities with the goal of strengthening its declining exports of edible oil.
The country is exploring strategies to revitalize its dwindling export earnings from edible fats and oils, which fell from Ush1.05 trillion ($281.1 million) in the same period last year to Ush338.2 billion ($90.5 million) in July 2023.
Uganda has been facing challenges in the production of a high-demand product, worsened by a surge in global demand last year and compounded by a conflict in Ukraine, a major vegetable oil producer. This conflict disrupted supply chains and led to price increases in the local market.
At present, the country meets less than 40 percent of the demand and is working to boost its production by revitalizing oilseed projects in multiple districts nationwide. This involves adding value to the products and improving transportation connections to market centers.
The Ministry of Local Government has initiated the creation of engineering designs for road construction and is actively gathering data through monitoring and evaluation activities with local communities. This is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the obstacles to market access.
Uganda produces 80,000 metric tons of vegetable oil annually, while official data indicates a requirement of 410,000 metric tons of vegetable oil to meet domestic demand.
Despite Uganda’s advantageous trade agreements with the European Union (EU), the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), and China, which offer favorable conditions like reduced tariffs and quotas for high-quality oilseed exports, local oilseed farmers still face challenges including subpar seed quality, limited yields, and lower oil content.
The National Oilseeds Project (NOSP), as one of the government’s initiatives, is actively aiding oilseed farmers by promoting value addition and improving infrastructure. This includes the construction of Community Access Roads.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Local Government are collaborating on an investment to bolster the oilseeds value chain.
The project focuses on augmenting the production and productivity of oilseeds and their by-products, particularly oil cake, through efficient input utilization, mechanization, and private sector-led expansion.
The project is dedicated to empowering small-scale farmers, helping them compete successfully in the sector, and facilitating easier access to credit within the industry. Additionally, it commits to supporting farmers by offering enhanced seeds and technologies to boost the quality and production of oilseed and vegetable oil.
Yassin Ssendawula, the Project Coordinator from the Ministry of Local Government, said, “NOSP will also engage in research and development support to create new and improved oilseed varieties in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organization and Makerere University.”