Enhancing phytosanitary compliance in Uganda's fruit and vegetable sector

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Enhancing phytosanitary compliance in Uganda's fruit and vegetable sector

The project was implemented to improve market access to the EU and other high-end regional markets for Ugandan fresh fruit and vegetables. By improving inspections and certifying produce exports, the project reduced the number of interceptions of produce to the EU, leading to increased revenue for stakeholders across the value chain. Sustained incomes to fruit and vegetable producers and their employees will contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security in line with Uganda’s development policy.


Uganda's economy is driven by its agriculture sector, which employs approximately 84% of its working population. In 2014, the EU intercepted more than 80% of fresh fruit and vegetable exports from Uganda because they contained harmful organisms, including false codling moth and fruit flies, in capsicum and bitter gourd. Exports to the EU amount to 60% of all fresh fruit and vegetable exports, making it the country's most important market.

The interceptions were mainly a result of weak institutional coordination and enforcement mechanisms; inadequate production, processing and distribution infrastructure; low public awareness; limited conformity assessment services; limited skilled human resources; inadequate regulatory infrastructure (laboratories, quarantine facilities, laboratory services); and inadequate capacity for the involvement of the private sector small-scale producers.

To address these challenges, Uganda put in place various strategies and policies to improve agricultural production, enhance SPS capacity and expand exports. An example of this is Uganda's Vision 2040, a strategy that identifies agriculture as one of the key opportunities to strengthen the Ugandan economy and transform its society.

This project built on lessons from earlier projects (e.g. 
STDF/PG/335) and identified synergies with relevant ongoing initiatives.


SPS multi-stakeholder platform established

The project successfully promoted public-private collaboration by establishing an SPS multi-stakeholder platform, connecting individuals from government authorities, horticulture producers and industry associations to discuss partnerships and synergies in horticulture.

The formation of HortiFresh, an apex industry association, will enable small producer and exporter groups to come together and improve collaboration and communication with the Department of Crop Inspection and Certification.

Strengthened phytosanitary capacity

More than 1,400 stakeholders – including producers and government staff – were trained in pest and disease management, food safety, and SPS export requirements.

Streamlined inspection and export certification system

To speed up processes and improve accuracy and transparency, 25 plant health inspectors received tablets and computers to process electronic phytosanitary certificates (e-Phyto solutions). As a result, the percentage of incorrect or incomplete documents submitted for certification during the project decreased by 66%.

Efficiencies derived from digitization resulted in streamlined and transparent processes, enabling an increase in the number of exporters accredited from 67 in 2017 to 150 in 2022.

Improved awareness and support at the national level

The number of interceptions affecting capsicum decreased by more than 90%, from 72 in 2018 to three in 2022. These positive results catalyzed an additional EUR8 million in EU investment to build capacity in Uganda's fruit and vegetable sector.


Strong national ownership and good collaboration across government authorities and the private sector, combined with foresight and a flexible approach, enabled the project to respond to new SPS issues affecting horticulture trade, and leverage additional resources to strengthen the sector.

Learning about experiences in neighboring countries provided inspiration for Ugandan stakeholders to adopt new approaches. This has improved the governance and policy framework for the horticulture sector and created an enabling trade environment for the private sector.

The development of a robust public-private partnership improved dialogue, built trust and created a shared vision for the future of the horticulture sector in Uganda.

In the private sector, a strong apex industry association enabled its members to benefit from economies of scale and increase their voice at the national level. In government, the creation of an inter-ministerial task force brought together different horticulture-focused committees, which supports better collaboration, negotiations, advocacy and coordination on SPS matters.

Reference Number 
Project Value (US$) 
STDF Contribution (US$)  
Implementing Entities 
CAB International (CABI)
Horticulture Exporters Association of Uganda (HORTEXA)
International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Uganda
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda
Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Uganda
National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda
Uganda Agribusiness Alliance (UAA)
Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB)
Uganda Fruits and Vegetable Exporters and Producers Association (UFVEPA)
Uganda Horticulture Exporters and Processors Association (UHEPA)