OP-ED

Kikuubo Traders should adjust like Dr Sudhir and benefit from the Uganda-UK Flower deal

By Ben Ssebuguzi 

The new development of suspension of the 8% duty on cut flowers in the UK  has presented a great opportunity for Ugandan businessmen to embrace this seamless chance of partaking of nearly $1b worth of cut flowers which are consumed per year in that country. 

Much obliged to the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Nepal to Uganda, Dr Sudhir Reparelia for having a magic hand in the development of the Floriculture business in Uganda. Given the fact that this is a new commercial business, the local business community have not fully embraced it but is mainly dominated by foreign investors with a few indigenous businessmen like Sudhir taking centre stage with Rosebud and Premier Roses which employ hundreds of Ugandans most especially women. 

Over the last decade, Uganda’s total export values to the UK have been on a decline trend from £42m in 2021 to £13.6m in 2023 which needs to be rejuvenated to regain our past glory. This is a wake-up call to Kikuubo traders to heed President Yoweri Kaguta’s advice to importers from Kikuubo to become wealth creators in the country but also exporters in order to earn foreign currency which is very crucial for the social economic development of every country. 

Dr Sudhir is one of the few businessmen in the country who defied the odds and discarded the import of wines and other merchandise in the late 1980s  and embraced enormous opportunities in the country, including starting up an insurance company called Gold Star, Crane Bank, Schools, hotels, flower growing among others which have extremely contributed to the forex exchange earnings of the country. 

The effect of adieu of the UK from the EU presents an incredible opportunity for the Ugandan business community to emulate Sudhir and join the export of fresh flowers and vegetables which have been given unlimited access to the UK market. 

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If we dissect the many benefits in the flower sector which our businessmen can pick interest include: building cold storage facilities, breeding flower seeds, greenhouse farming, and transportation, among others. 

The government has been working to support the sector development for several years in 2016 when VAT exemptions were introduced and the importation tax on green houses removed to spur growth in the industry. The move of allowing to defer tax to growers for 10 years also continues to attract profitability in the sector. 

The abundant fertile soils and conducive weather continue to project Uganda as the best country to attract FDI in the flower sector on the continent and most probably overtake Ethiopia and Kenya who are the giants. 

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The writer is the Head of Research at Office of the National Chairman 

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