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Fresh Handling: New perishable cargo centre to boost Uganda exports

State Minister for Industries David Bahati, representing the Prime Minister opened the facility (Photo/Handout)

Entebbe, (UG): Uganda reached a significant milestone with the commencement of a groundbreaking ceremony for a cutting-edge airside solar-powered perishable cargo handling centre at Entebbe.

Valued at $10 million (Shillings 37.8 billion), the transformative project is spearheaded by the Agriculture Business Initiative (aBi) and funded by the European Union and the Danish Royal Government through DANIDA.

The collaborative effort involves aBi Development Ltd, Fresh Handling Uganda Limited, and the Ugandan government in implementing this initiative. At the ceremony, State Minister for Industries David Bahati, representing the Prime Minister, hailed the facility as a game-changer for the horticulture sector.

With a two-acre land donation from the Ugandan government near Entebbe International Airport, the centre aims to boost export volumes from under 10,000 metric tons, generating $49 million, to an impressive 25,000 metric tons, fetching $150 million. Moreover, employment opportunities are set to rise from 9,000 to over 30,000.

State Minister for Industries David Bahati (with a mic) represented the Prime Minister to open the facility

Sanne Willems, the European Union’s team leader for green transition and private sector, highlighted the EU’s commitment, extending a $45 million support grant to aBi. The aim is to enhance export compliance of horticultural products from Uganda to the EU market.

Willems emphasized the significance of improving the quality of both exported and locally consumed produce for the health and well-being of consumers.

Danish Ambassador Signe Winding Albjerg underscored the centre’s pivotal role in enhancing Uganda’s agro exports, foreseeing a substantial increase in exports and job creation across the value chain.

The emphasis on renewable energy aligns with Uganda’s strategic location in the East African Community, offering a competitive edge in regional markets.

Paul Mwambu, Commissioner in charge of crop inspection and certification at the Ministry of Agriculture, stressed the centre’s role in maintaining phytosanitary standards essential for international trade.

However, he highlighted the necessity for interventions at the farm and transport levels to ensure consistent quality from production to exit points.

Felix Okoboi from aBi Development Ltd expressed pride in championing green investments, highlighting ongoing efforts to mitigate climate change impacts and drive the green transition in agribusiness.

He said the focus remains on equipping partners with the tools necessary for the green transition and creating new green jobs in Uganda.

On his part, Daniel Kiryango, the Chairman of the board of directors for Fresh Handling Uganda, emphasized the urgency of the project, addressing existing facility shortcomings that caused delays in exporting fresh produce to Europe. The new centre aims to elevate Uganda’s position in the global market.

The facility arrives at a crucial juncture, addressing challenges that led to interceptions of Uganda’s fresh agricultural supplies to the European market.

Its implementation aims to bolster Uganda’s compliance with bilateral agreements and solidify its standing in the international horticulture market.

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