COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA)- Uganda National Implementation Roadmap

Uganda’s agricultural sector is a fundamental part of the economy, accounting for 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an additional 25% through its connections with other sectors such as manufacturing, distribution, and services (UBOS, 2022/23). It serves as the main source of income and livelihood for approximately 65% of the rural population and 38% of the overall population. The significance of agriculture is highlighted in various government policy documents, including the Uganda Constitution 2016, Uganda Vision 2040, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Potential of Horticulture in COMESA

Horticulture offers substantial potential for economic growth across the 21 Member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It can significantly boost rural incomes and create job opportunities. The sub-sector also promotes women’s empowerment, with women making up over 50% of the workforce along the value chain, from farming to processing and marketing. Recognizing this potential, COMESA, in partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO, UK), initiated a project to enhance regional agricultural commodity trade in COMESA.

The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialized agency of COMESA, is responsible for integrating smallholder farmers into domestic, regional, and international markets. ACTESA’s 2021-2031 Strategic Plan emphasizes building the capacity of the horticulture sub-sector across the COMESA region. This potential is also recognized by the East African Community (EAC) Member States, as reflected in the EAC’s Fruit and Vegetable Strategy 2021-2031.

Launch of the COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA)

In 2022, the COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA) was established by public and private sector partners to improve the coordination of policy, value chain development programs, financing, and Research and Development (R&D) within the horticulture industry. CEHA aims to accelerate the growth of the Fruit and Vegetable (F&V) sub-sector in the COMESA and EAC regions. The focus countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, selected for their horticulture subsector’s financial contributions to their economies.

In Uganda, CEHA focuses on three priority anchor value chains (VCs): potato, avocado, and onion. These crops were chosen in 2022 based on surveys evaluating their production capacity, impact potential, market growth, value chain competitiveness, and alignment with the government’s agenda and development partners’ investment priorities.

Economic Impact of the Focus Value Chains

The selected value chains—potato, avocado, and onion—are expected to generate an additional USD 230 million annually, benefiting approximately 450,000 smallholder farmers. Avocado and Irish potato alone have the potential to create over 50,000 and 380,000 additional jobs, respectively. In Tanzania and Uganda, the onion value chain is anticipated to create over 230,000 rural jobs, capitalizing on strong brand quality and increasing demand.

CEHA enables more effective and efficient coordination of investments from public, development agencies, and private sectors towards common goals, resulting in higher impacts compared to isolated investments.

CEHA Uganda Chapter and HortiFresh Association Uganda (HFA)

The CEHA Uganda Chapter is hosted by HortiFresh Association Uganda (HFA). HFA supports MSMEs in the focus value chains through matching grants and technical assistance to create jobs, increase regional trade, and reduce post-harvest losses. HortiFresh is an umbrella membership association for exporters, producers, and service providers in Uganda’s fresh fruits and vegetables sector. Its primary activities include lobbying and advocacy, market information dissemination, access to finance, and capacity building for its members.

HortiFresh is guided by a vision of “A horticulture sector that produces and sells safe and good quality fresh fruits and vegetables,” with a mission to “build the capacity of fresh fruits and vegetables value chain players to meet safety, quality, and market requirements.” Its values emphasize accountability, collaboration, inclusivity, and sustainability.

CEHA Structures

CEHA operates with a bottom-up structure where national-level stakeholders, mainly from the horticulture private sector, identify strategic priorities. The governance structure includes a CEHA Board, National Chapters, and a CEHA Secretariat managed by the ACTESA Secretariat. The Secretariat also oversees CEHA technical committees. The HortiFresh Uganda Association hosts the Uganda national platform and has adopted a similar governance structure, including at least 50% private sector representatives from across the national value chain: input suppliers, farmer organizations, processors, trade associations, and exporters. Representatives from relevant Ministries, such as the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), government institutions responsible for horticulture, research bodies, and major donors investing in the fruit and vegetable sub-sector are also included.

The CEHA Uganda National Implementation Roadmap represents a strategic and collaborative approach to harnessing the horticulture sector’s potential, driving economic growth, and improving livelihoods in Uganda and the broader COMESA and EAC regions.

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