Investors consider Uganda’s agricultural potential to be among the best in Africa, with low temperature variability, fertile soils, and two rainy seasons over much of the country - leading to multiple crop harvests per year. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Uganda’s fertile agricultural land has the potential to feed 200 million people. Eighty percent of Uganda’s land is arable but only 35% is being cultivated. In FY 2022/23, agriculture accounted for about 24% of GDP, and 35% of export earnings. The UBOS estimates that about 68% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture. Uganda produces a wide range of agricultural products including coffee, tea, sugar, livestock, fish, edible oils, cotton, tobacco, plantains, corn, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, and groundnuts. Commercialization of the sector is impeded by farmers’ limited use of fertilizer and quality seeds, and a lack of irrigation infrastructure – rendering production vulnerable to climatic extremes and pest infestations. Sector growth is also impaired by the lack of quality packaging capabilities, insufficient storage facilities, poor post-harvest handling practices, shortage of agricultural credit, high freight costs, the lack of all-weather feeder roads in rural areas, a complicated and inefficient land tenure system, and limited knowledge of modern production practices. Ugandan producers often find it difficult to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards required to export goods to Europe and the United States. Ugandan poultry, sugar, and milk products face export restrictions from Kenya.
Investment opportunities exist in Uganda’s agriculture sector, including in production, input supply, value addition processing, standards compliance and export, and post-harvest handling. In the coffee sector, there is space to increase coffee production and the amount of coffee exported to the United States. Uganda is Africa’s leading coffee exporter and second largest producer but sends just 5.7% of its exports to the United States. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority reported total exports of 5.9 million 60-kilo bags valued at $877 million in 2022, up from 6.5 million 60-kilo bags valued at $627 million in 2021. The primary driver for the higher value in the 2022 exports was the increment in the coffee price to $2.50 per kilo from $1.61 per kilo in 2021. The government has developed an ambitious, yet detailed, plan to increase its current production of 402,000 tons of coffee to 1.2 million tons annually by 2025.
In the tea sub-sector, Uganda produced at least 80,000 tons of tea in 2022. At least 5% of the total production is consumed in the domestic market. Most of Uganda’s tea is exported through the Export Auction System that takes place in Mombasa, Kenya. The value of tea exports is $88.36 million, mostly semi-processed. Tea farmers and exporters rarely export directly to the United States although there is interest to make direct sales.