Flower exports recovered for the period ended June after suffering a massive decline occasioned by Covid-19.
In March, Uganda Flowers Export Association reported that exports had fallen by at least 90 per cent.
However, the commodity, according to Bank of Uganda, has been recovering since May, reporting export receipts of $4.2m (Shs15.5b) in May.
Flower exports have further, according to Bank of Uganda, recovered in June, recording revenues of $6m (Shs22b), which represents a percentage recovery of 30 per cent.
In the period under review, a total of 760 tonnes were exported up from 528 tonnes in May.
Industrial analysts attribute the improved performance to several factors, among which was the increase in the number of cargo flights in and out of Uganda.
The April global lockdown had eaten into the flower sector, which suffered suspension at various auction markets including in Netherlands, which is one of Uganda and Eastern Africa’s biggest flower export destination.
Ms Esther Nekambi, the Uganda Flower Exporters Association programmer coordinator, yesterday told Daily Monitor the improvement in flights, especially cargo, was the major driver for the recovery.
During the lockdown, she said, many countries had suspended flower exports, but Ugandan exporters had sustained supply to most countries, although at reduced volumes.
“We were able to leverage on that advantage. There was scarcity in the market,” she said, noting that Uganda was also helped by the harsh weather in flower export countries such as Kenya.
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The flower industry employs more than 10,000 people, majority of whom are women (80 per cent).
However, the industry continues to work below capacity due to partial lockdown, especially at Uganda’s main entry and exit point – Entebbe International Airport.
“We are anxious because of the increasing cases of Covid-19,” Ms Nekambi said, noting the industry had experienced a lot of difficulty, during the lockdown, especially in terms of logistics and transportation.
The recovery, she noted, is still shaky given that some of the export destinations such as Europe, are facing the threat of recurrence in Covid-19 case and lockdowns.
“So, we are hoping there will be no lockdown in Europe. We are trying to see and hoping that it doesn’t get worse than it is already,” Ms Nekambi said.
The flower industry continues to grapple with the high cost of energy. On average electricity bills per farm is between Shs25m and Shs30m per month.
According to Ms Nekambi, in order to survive in business alternative sources of fuel are used like diesel to run the generators, which on average costs between Shs10m and Shs20m.