By Fred Kiva
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has put in place measures to protect the country’s export market, in light of recent interceptions of horticultural exports to the European Union, due to non-compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards. Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said, “My Ministry has put in place rigid and serious interventions to avert and protect our export market through; communication channels between MAAIF & European Union.” “We appointed a national task force of both private & our technical staff,” he added.
The Minister revealed that the World Trade Organization Standard Trade Development Facility together with the Royal Netherlands Embassy are providing technical assistance to the Ministry “and within six months, we expect a downward trend of interceptions.” Last month European Union (EU) Ambassador to Uganda Attilio Pacifici wrote to the Commissioner Crop Inspection and Certification Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries expressing concern that some horticultural products exported from Uganda to the EU continue to flout sanitary and phytosanitary standards. “As of 1st February, 2019, the number of interceptions was 55, which is the highest among all EU’s trading partners,” Ambassador Pacifici said in his March 20 letter.
“The EU Member States and the Commission consider this threat as requiring possible safeguard measures in case the situation cannot be assessed as under control,” he emphasized, warning that “the Commission might have no choice but to make a decision on a ban on peppers imported from Uganda.” Despite the challenge of standards however, Minister Ssempijja said Uganda continues to enjoy a significant share in export volumes worth USD100M. He noted that presence of harmful organisms and excess pesticides residues are the major causes of these rejections.