Scaling up Export of Uganda’s Organic Dried Fruits to International and Regional Markets – EU, USA, Japan and East African Community
NOGAMU is the umbrella organization of producers, processors and exporters of the organic sector in Uganda, with a membership of 355 organizations representing over 1,200,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda. NOGAMU was established in 2001 as a non-governmental organization and has its permanent secretariat in Kampala. Its main objective is to coordinate and promote the entire organic sector in Uganda. The Organization plays a lead role in market development of organic products in Africa and has developed a pool of experts in market planning and promotion. In so doing, NOGAMU has facilitated marketing of organic products from Uganda resulting in over 200,000 smallholder farmers certified to international standards. NOGAMU also promotes organic agriculture, a sector currently worth about US$44 million annually to Uganda and still growing.
Under TradeMark East Africa Research and Advocacy Challenge Fund (TRAC), the main objective of the project is to provide a common bulking arrangement for dried fruits – pineapples, jackfruit, apple banana and mangoes – coming from the 7 SMEs in order to achieve economies of scale, maximize competitiveness, establish a strong common brand and increase overall capacity of these companies.
NOGAMU’s main responsibility is to do the bulking and the marketing of the products under the common brand incorporated as “ORGUT”. The 7 participating SMEs include member export companies and farmer’s cooperatives namely: BioFresh Ltd, BioUganda Ltd, Sulma Foods Ltd, RUCID Ltd, Flona Commodities Ltd, Jali Organic Association and Africa 2000Network (A2N).
The TRAC-NOGAMU project is structured into five milestones as indicated below, with all milestones having been achieved:
involved the certification of 900 smallholder organic farmers to at least 1 organic standard (end of project month 6)
based around the installation of multiple fruit-drying machines in 7 partner companies with a capacity of 40 kgs per drying cycle
the exportation of 20 MT of dried fruit on a trial basis using the new ORGUT brand
dried fruits processed by 7 participating companies increased by at least 100% in volume terms by the end of the project
at least 5 participating SMEs / farmer cooperatives having sold their products through the ORGUT brand by the end of the project
- Introduction of organic systems and standards – certification process for 900 farmers to different organic standards has delivered a new level of technical capacity for the ‘outgrower’ farmers supplying the seven factories.
- Market development and promotion – the certifications were guaranteed entry and created a new demand for export markets. The quality assurance systems and development of export markets has helped trigger new demand for Ugandan fruits.
- Strengthening production capacity – through TRAC-funding, the companies have considerably increased their manufacturing capacity. For some, this has increased to up to 100% in a way that they are now able to comfortably meet the demand for fresh fruits from regional and international markets.
- The trade impact – the increase in export volumes to up to 23 metric tonnes (as of April 2015) demonstrates the project has achieved a positive trade impact.
- Several time extensions had to be granted to the project, due to time delays attributed to: (i) Lengthy certification processes for all the seven members (ii) Logistical challenges in procuring processing equipment from Europe, so the lesson learned was future planning should incorporate these uncertainties.
- Bridging finance – the capital outlay required for procurement and installation of machines was a challenge to secure for some of the seven member companies. Different SMEs had different capacities, mobilization of funds therefore proved challenging for some, so in future planning; a reasonable fund level should be agreed with all members in advance and/or support should be made available to assist partners with funding needs.
- There was an implied project coordination challenge for NOGAMU trying to oversee a smooth implementation amongst seven companies who bore different capacities and priorities. Streamlining their operations, quality management systems, documentation amongst others was an obvious risk and challenge to the project, so a better communication system should be implemented and common approaches agreed in advance.
While the project succeeded in its objectives of introducing new technologies for fruit processing, branding and the establishment of sales networks, a key objective of the project was to help farmers to be more competitive through achieving economies of scale in the supply and processing of fruits. With this common bulking arrangement, “farmers are better organized, and have the benefit of attracting a serious buyer” – Chariton Namuwoza, the Project Manager from NOGAMU.