International Agriculture News

Uganda in 80,000 tonnes deficit of edible oil

Data indicates that Uganda’s edible oil demand stands at 120,000 metric tonnes against a production capacity of 40,000 metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 80,000 annually

The state minister for trade, Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, has said Uganda has a deficit of over 80,000 metric tonnes of edible oil annually.

Kafabusa relayed that efforts to diversify the raw materials for cooking oil production through the use of vegetables and fats have not helped to correct the deficit.

He made the remarks during the launch of Virgin Gold, a new cooking oil product made from Sunflower by a Lira-based Ngetta Tropical Holdings Limited.

The launch took place at Golden Tulip Canaan Hotel in Kampala.

“Recent data indicates that Uganda’s edible oil demand stands at 120,000 metric tonnes against a production capacity of 40,000 metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 80,000 annually,” said Kafabusa.

He explained that the slow growth in production is hinged on different factors such as poor seed quality, lack of sufficient and available raw material, high operational costs and uncontrolled markets.

“Out of the total production, only 75% (30,000 metric tonnes) is consumed locally, while the 25% (10,000 metric tonnes) is exported to neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi South Sudan and Tanzania,” Kafabusa said, adding that the Government has created a number of institutions to boost the production of raw materials.

Kafabusa said that the initiative is being undertaken by the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), which will spearhead research in the production and dissemination of improved varieties for vegetable oil processing.

The Ngetta Tropical Holdings chief executive officer, Paul Omara, noted that Uganda imports about 65% of cooking oil, which is mainly palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia. He said the country has about 68 millers, but most of them are operating below capacity.

“To counter the deficit, we are proposing that government departments support farmers in the greater north to grow sunflower and other oil seed crops to boost production of raw materials,” Kafabusa stated.

He said if supporting regions that produce oil-rich crops consistently for the next three to five years Uganda will have enough cooking oil, and thus save the dollars we have been using to import this oil from other countries,” he explained.

Currently, Ngetta Tropical Holdings is working with 33 co-operatives comprising over 24,000 farmers, who are engaged in sunflower growing. The company employs 32 permanent staff and 50 casual workers.

Collins Apoyo, the team leader for NU-TEC Market Development organisation and Ngetta Holdings business partner, noted that they have been carrying out capacity building for farmers so they can produce quality sunflower.

He said the partnership between the two organisations started in March 2017 and since then, her organisation has helped Ngetta Tropical Holdings to install machinery and this increased people’s confidence about the ready market for their sunflower grains.

“We have worked with Ngetta Tropical on their planting strategy and we are now embarking on linking small holder farmers to the company to ensure steady supply of raw materials,” Apoyo said.