Mutayoba Arbogast

Ugandan Produce Shines in UAE

Creating New Wave of Economic Opportunities for Farmers and Exporters in the UAE.

In the vibrant heart of the United Arab Emirates, a unique cultural fusion is showcased by the arrival of fresh produce from Uganda. From the bustling markets of Kyamuhunga and Kabalagala to the upscale supermarkets of Abu Dhabi, Ugandan fruits and vegetables are making their mark, delighting local palates with their distinctive flavors.

No wonder the United Arab Emirates is partly interested in Uganda’s food with a special skew towards fruits and vegetables. A visit to any of the hotels in the UAE will attest to the type, especially the taste of the fruits served. They are nowhere near the taste of any Ugandan fruits, according to the video clips.

The Ugandans have now made it possible to use their mother language to advertise their food products, from green beans, potatoes, bananas, and many kinds of fruits to processed cassava and maize flour.

A video clip that has gone viral recently showcases a Ugandan business in Abu Dhabi directing an Arabic customer in a prestigious shopping mall to name the showcased local food products imported from Uganda in the Luganda language.

The kind of adverts for the freshly imported food products from Uganda to Dubai have of recent days become the wake-up call to the diaspora from across the world to see in it the means of making their potential in home countries known globally.  

Ugandans are globally known for their inherent attitude and inculcated culture of valuing their products. Like most Maasai in Tanzania and Kenya, Ugandans hardly feel shame to even speak English in their local accent, a move that makes them recognized as East Africans with their unique mode of speaking the Queen’s tongue.

A Ugandan friend of mine, John Modoi, who has been teaching at Katooke Lweru Secondary School in Muleba District, Kagera Region says due to slim employment opportunities in his home country, Ugandans have currently managed to curve business niche across the world, with many of tycoons investing in shop malls in the United Arab Emirates.

According to Modoi, the good ties between Idd Amin the embattled former President of Uganda and Arabic countries resonate from his love of the Islamic religion and his policies on the free exportation of Ugandan Agricultural products overseas.

The teach-com farmer attributes the booming trade in Ugandan local food stuff in Abu Dhabi to the good policies in his home country, noting that President Museveni had leveraged the agricultural business climate that saw the majority of farmers champion the exportation of their produce without restrictions.

“Based on the nature of our little job opportunities, Ugandans have been trained to grab every opportunity that pushes them t get money. Dubai has been our home because their government systems are more friendly to businesses from developing countries than Western countries, so to speak,” he notes amid jubilation.

Yuda Lugona, a Ugandan living in Cambodia says the recent visit of one of the trade ministers from UAE in his home country saw some posh hotels pampering the dignitary to eat fresh foodstuff, especially bananas whose sweetness made him curve a huge story on his mind and upon getting back home, he kept demanding for more products from Uganda.

“A tone of the Five Star Hotels where this UAE minister spent his three-day-visit, I am told hoteliers were keen to make him enjoy fresh fruits, our sweetest roasted maize, kachori, but above all the Arabic man liked bananas, asking; which kind of sugar did you place in this fruit? His question energized most of his hosts to keep serving him bananas until he finished the whole bunch in his stay,” says Lugona.

History has it that President Idd Amid deported several Asians who had set up business in Uganda making their life difficult based on the claims that they were exploiting Africans by seizing whatever business opportunity aimed for the indigenous, a move which made the majority of them (Indianans) to find haven in Tanzania and Kenya. Therefore, the news administration under President Yoweri Museveni saw the new means of casting away the narrative by reigniting the lost ties with foreign countries.

On May 8, the Ugandan leading English newspaper, The Daily Monitor, reported that the county was crowed the best Investment destination for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Africa.

The State Minister of Finance Investment and Planning Evelyne Anite received the award at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) gala dinner at the National Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

Data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), of global data visualization tool for international trade data indicates that Ugandan exports grew from$495,000 in 1995 to $ 1.12 billion, with gold being the leading export product while exports from UAE to Uganda stand from UAE to Uganda stands at $ 305million up from $ 60.7million, with broadcasting being the largest export product.

According to Minister Evelyne Anite, the Emirates is very inclined to work with Uganda first by establishing an agricultural free zone, a not-very common phenomenon globally.

She hinted that the United Arab Emirates import market is almost $ 11 billion annually and yet Uganda is nowhere near tapping in just 1 percent of this market exporting.

The minister was quoted as saying that Uganda exported only $ 14 million worth of food exports in 2017 with just $ 5 million of these being fruits and vegetables.

Yuda Lugona says considering that Uganda is only five hours away from UAE if the government re-established the national air carrier and started with a cargo plane, the country would benefit immensely in a very short time.    

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