From the private sector, The Alliance team interacted with select exporters of fruits and vegetables to observe the export process starting from sorting farm produce at different exporter packhouses to final inspections and cargo loading at the Entebbe International airport. Exporter packhouses visited include AGRICADO Farms, Bio-fresh, and ROKI fruits. At the airport, the team interacted with the DAS training Institute that provides the full spectrum of ground export handling services at the Airport. In addition to interacting with the exporters, they also engaged with leadership from HortiFresh, and Horticultural Exporters Association Uganda (HORTEXA), Uganda’s top private sector associations for horticulture agribusinesses and exporters to understand how they support actors in the horticulture export business. Part of their visit also included travelling to the Malaba border post, where the Alliance team gained a deeper understanding of the trade process at a land border in real time. They appreciated the efficiency of the one stop border (single window operations), however, noted that they were still opportunities such as strengthening collaborative partnerships that can further improve the process. In terms of collaborators in the public sector, the team interacted with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Forestry (MAAIF), and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC). The team was also welcomed by these public sector stakeholders and were able to discuss project progress and potential future interventions within the broader trade facilitation agenda.
Through discussions and interactions with aforementioned public and private sector stakeholders and observation of the trade process, the Alliance and the RUSH teams assessed several challenges in the process of exporting horticulture produce. However, the saliant ones include limited data on exports, Low adoption to change, limited exporter visibility, insufficient packhouse equipment, limited access to cold chain logistics and storage, inability to track increase on investment, low technological advancement and manual information management. These lead to inadequate room for data-driven decision making and solutions.
The project team has extensively harnessed strong stakeholder engagement both with the private and public sector, meaningful training, creation of transparency using comprehensive data collection along the horticulture value chain; and has unearthed the need to deploy a digital solution to ensure impact is tracked and maintained in facilitating and simplifying trade.
For the remaining project implementation period, the aim is to integrate reformed inspection checklists into a digital solution while closely working with the relevant Ministries and Association partners to strengthen compliance; in order to solve challenges like limited exporter visibility, inability to track increase on investment, low technological advancement and manual information management, and advance the companies’ ability to supply to lucrative markets in the long run.
The need for a common viewpoint was emphasized – a national vision - a coordinated effort among the "silent heroes" (both the private and public sector players), to ensure improvement of the sector and harness the gains made over time, which will significantly contribute to improved economic growth in the country.