Last year, vegetables and various roots and tubers cost Uganda close to $18 million (Shs49 billion) in imports, according to details from a Ministry of Finance report. For the period that ended December 2019, the country imported edible vegetables such as potatoes, fresh chilled, tomatoes, fresh or chilled, onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and cabbages, which, however, are also locally produced.
Others imports concerned cauliflowers, kohlrabi, kale, lettuce, chicory, cucumbers and leguminous vegetables dried and frozen. This, according to a report seen by the Daily Monitor, showed that in this period in review, frozen vegetables took the largest share of the import bill in this category worth $4.6 million (Shs17 billion).
More importantly, Uganda spent $4.2 million (Shs15.5 billion) on onions, garlic, shallots and leeks for the period in review. Other vegetables largely grown locally but also imported were carrots, salad beetroot and turnips where Ugandans spent over $3 million (Shs11.1 billion). Also in this category, Ugandans imported fried leguminous vegetables, cabbages, and cauliflowers among others.
Uganda is a net importer with much of the country’s imports sourced from Asia, especially China, United Arab Emirates and lately Vietnam. However, there have been efforts by government to drive the import substitution agenda through policy shifts and formulation such as Buy Uganda Build Uganda.
Ms Victoria Ssekitoleko, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda vice chairperson and president of International Women in Coffee-Uganda Chapter, said in reaction to the composition of the import bill, “The Covid-19 pandemic has allowed us to understand and rethink where and when we spend our money. We should take on import substitution.”