Dutch Embassy launches accelerator programme to boost Ugandan fruits exports

UGANDA – The Netherlands Embassy of Uganda has launched an accelerator programme dubbed ‘Business Lab Uganda’ targeting Ugandan agribusiness fruit farmers, aimed to link them to export market in the Netherlands and Europe.

The programme will be hosted by the Design Hub, a creative co-working innovation space located in Kampala’s Industrial Area.

According to the programme manager, Annelies Kannekens, selected fruit farmers together with middle men will undergo an 18 months’ training, to skill them in sustainable supply management and production of high-quality products.

She said that the selected candidates will receive a highly practical support package that will prepare them to ink deals with reputable entrepreneurs abroad.

“We shall have two cohorts focusing on adding value to fruits. One of these will focus on adding value to jackfruit and the other to dried fruits,” Kannekens said.

In the medium term, the programme will focus on building a distribution network for collecting jackfruit and developing a brand for jackfruit products for both the local and international markets.

According to a NewVision, Uganda produces a lot of fruits, although only a small percentage is exported due to high levels of food waste, high-quality standards in the foreign markets, consumer preference for legacy fruit varieties and lack of investment in value-addition facilities.

The Design Hub managing director, Inez Van Oord, noted that the initiative was born out of the frustration of training a multitude of farmers, but failing to connect them to buyers abroad.

Van Oord said buyers would now be included in the process from the initial stages, linking them to the farmers to give them awareness of their specific interests.

Most of the fruits consumed in the Netherlands are imported from Thailand, she said highlighting that Uganda has equally good fruit that should easily get a good market.

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