Uganda depends on the agriculture sector for most of its exports’ revenues, with coffee accounting for most of its exports’ receipts.
Uganda is Africa’s second largest coffee producer as well as leading exporter in Africa’s records. However, the challenges facing the industry and sub-sector, in general, have forced the government to seek other avenues to boost exports.
Sericulture seems to be a major plan in the list of the Parliament. The agro-based industry is tipped to be the country’s second-largest foreign exchange earner, after coffee. Uganda women ventured into economic activity as a source of livelihood, especially in the rural regions. In other silk-producing, for instance, China, over one million workers are employed in the sector.
According to International Sericultural Commission (ISC), the major silk producing countries in the world are; China, India, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, DPR Korea, and Iran. African silk-producing countries are Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and Uganda.
World’s largest silk producers – China and India respectively – are encountering a challenge that Uganda can capitalize. Their global production is not meeting the market’s demand, as both have registered a decline in production. The gap, of course, opens the race for other global competitors but Uganda could position itself to reap big with the government strategies.
Citing statistics from the National Cocoon Silk Office, China produced 146,400 tonnes of silk in 2014, a decrease of 13.64 percent compared with 2010. India that accounts for about 18 percent of the world’s raw silk production kicked off 2017 on staggering form opening chances for other producers.
India’ produces 28,000 metric tonnes yearly, which is far below its demand of 35,000 metric tonnes.
Lead sericulture researcher, Clet Wandui Masiga, hinted the challenge could offer the country a chance to reap huge benefits. Should the government efforts bore fruits, the nation will rake at least $93 million in revenue on a yearly basis. In addition to the multi-million harvest, the industry will open over 50,000 employment opportunities that will be harnessed by the youthful population to curb the rate of unemployment in the country. In India, the silk industry has employed at least 7.9 million people, and 20,000 weaving families in Thailand.
Masiga explained that the global dwindle of silk production is the increased labor costs, which have increased in those countries from $1,500 in the year 2000 to $6500 in 2010. The figures could rise with the global economic outlook taking a change.
Another factor is urbanization which has rendered land for cultivation for mulberry trees.
“In the foreseeable future, silk will remain an important raw material for producing high quality and luxury clothes. Uganda should seize this opportunity to create rural and urban employment for economic growth,” says Masiga.
Sericulture will uplift the economic status of the rural regions and lure investors to develop such remote areas.