The European market for dried tropical fruit is expected to show stable growth of 5% to 6% in volume annually, driven by demand for healthier snacking options. This growth trajectory provides opportunities for value addition to fruit crops in Africa. Uganda, for example, is already one of the United Kingdom’s main supply countries for dried bananas.
In March 2020, the Dutch embassy in Uganda announced the launch of an accelerator programme aimed to link fruit farmers from the country with export markets in Europe. The focus of this specific project is to train local farmers on how to add value to their produce, specifically jackfruit, but also other tropical fruit.
Julian Omalla, founder and managing director of Delight Uganda, operates a large farm in the northern region of Uganda near Nwoya and hopes to start producing a new line of 100% fresh juices from locally grown fruit once the processing plant that the government is constructing in partnership with her company is operational. She shares the sentiment that there is a lot of untapped opportunities still ready for the taking in agro-business.
“Uganda is a food basket. We have it all and the farmers can produce. We have the best, most fertile soil and the climate is ideal. Dried mango, for example. It is a great opportunity,” she says
What is still required, according to Omalla, is capital investment into value addition as it still a costly exercise to overcome some of the infrastructure constraints that exist in the country.
Omalla and her company works with close to 5,000 local farmers to source the fruit required for its planned production. Guava, mango and citrus will be sourced and Omalla already sees the opportunity for drying some of the fruit to cater to a growing market outside of Uganda. “It is going to be part of our new line of businesses. We will have the ready-to-drink fresh juice, dried fruit, concentrate and pulp. There are opportunities for export in the Arab and European markets,” she says.
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