Ugandans Exporting Organic Pineapples
By Paul Ndiho
May 5, 2011
Ugandan farmers are producing organically grown pineapples and other food crops destined for European markets.
The United Nations says the market for organic products from Africa is expected to grow exponentially over the next three years, offering new opportunities for small farmers in poor countries.
“The major benefit I’ve had from organic agriculture is an increase in my income. I’ve been able to educate my children and I have been able to harvest enough food to feed my family.”
In Uganda, the National Organic Agricultural Movement (NOGAMU) promotes the growth of organic agriculture across the country, and the export of certified, organic products around the world:
“The green economy is important to Uganda because it creates a lot of opportunities to create wealth for different actors, from farmers to traders, in a way that is more sustainable and protects the environment.”
Farmers say the key to success in the export market is becoming certified as an organic grower.
“I can sell this organic pineapple for 600 shillings to an exporter. But the same sized conventional pineapple is worth only 200 shillings on the local market.”
Ssonko sells his certified organic produce to a local exporter called BioFresh, which air-freights his pineapple to Germany.
Workers at the BioFresh packing plant earn twice what conventional packers do, and enjoy free food and transport, unheard of in the conventional agriculture industry.
NOGAMU also runs a shop in the capital Kampala, providing organic produce to locals. There’s even an online delivery service.
“The potential for organic agriculture in Uganda is very high. It’s easier to improve the livelihoods of farmers in rural areas thru organic agriculture than any other intervention.”
Scientists say organic farming; help to mitigate climate change, that organic fields sequester 3-8 more tones of carbon per hector than conventional agriculture. And there can be productivity gains:
we’ve prepared a study on the transition towards organic agriculture and the associative productivity gains achieved. Across Africa, on average, the increases in yields were 100 percent and in East Africa even 125 percent.”
Like other farmers in rural Uganda, Ssonko says that the green economy creates not just jobs, but better living standards.
“My life has changed. I started w 10 acres, now I have 80 acres. I’ve built three houses, and opened a hardware store in the village.”
In Uganda, more than 80 percent of the population works in agriculture, contributing more than 40 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.