Profile for Agriculture Animal industry and fisheries sector

Contribution to economy

Uganda’s economy depends on agriculture sector that contributes over 20% of the GDP, over 65% of the employed labour force, and about 31% of export earnings are derived from the agricultural sector. The sector therefore is a major contributor to the national economic growth, poverty reduction, food security and exporter and has also led to improvement of people’s livelihoods and the socio-economic transformation of the country. The sector presents a lot of opportunities for growth in other sectors.  In FY 2015/16 the sector provided up to 26 % of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), about 78.8% of the income of the rural households and generated over 85% of total export earnings. The sector therefore contributes to growth in trade, investments, industrialization, economic diversification and job creation. The sector has the following sub-sectors

Sector priorities

The Agriculture sector’s priorities in FY 2016/17, in accordance with the national budget strategy and National Development Plan II, were as follows;

  • Implement the refined Agriculture Single Spine Extension System
  • Control of pests, vectors and diseases in both crops and animals.
  • Availability of quality inputs at farm level
  • To increase water for agricultural production at farm level through direct public project support and
  • Subsidise the construction of small scale on-farm valley tanks and valley dams
  • Intensify its efforts to support value addition and primary processing of the national priority and strategic commodities
  • Intensify regulation and enforcement activities in crop, livestock and capture fisheries.


The key crops include coffee, cotton, tea, cocoa, tobacco, sugarcane, maize, rice, beans, soya beans, cassava, millet, sorghum and horticultural produce. The key challenge in the sub-sector is dependence on rainfall that has been very irregular of recent.


Uganda’s natural forests have been depleted through illegal and unsustainable harvesting practices. According to the U.N. FAO, 15.2% or about 2,988,000 ha of Uganda is forested.   Between 1990 and 2010, Uganda lost an average of 88,150 ha or 1.86% per year, leading to a loss of 37.1% of its forest cover estimated at around 1,763,000 ha. The government has not yet adequately addressed the rate of forest depletion. Government projects that the national target for plantations should be 75,000 hectares of commercial timber plantations by 2025 which translates to planting needs of 3,500 hectares per annum. There is current acute shortage of timber which has led to increases in timber prices.

Fisheries sub-sector

The stocks of fish in the lakes improved with production in 2014 at 461,726 metric tonnes valued at 2.3 billion compared to 419,248 metric tones valued at 1.8 billion. The fish exports have stagnating for the last five years with the current average annual exports standing at about 17,000 metric tonnes in fish. Uganda currently earns about $134m (Shs481.9 billion) from exports of fish. The sector is the second largest export hard currency earner for Uganda after crops. The investment in the sector is estimated at over US$ 200 million with employment of over 700,000 people. The sector with annual fish catch of 230,000 tones depends on the various natural water bodies of Uganda.


Total milk production amounted to 1.55 billion litres in 2014. Exports from milk and its products earned Uganda US$28,684 million in 2014. Thirty three per cent (33%) of the marketed milk in Uganda is processed whereas sixty seven per cent (67%) is marketed raw. The processing capacity of milk was 1,304 million litres in 2014.

The production targets for 2020 for beef production, 360,000 metric tones (valued at US$ 1.636 billion); pork, 139,185 metric tones (valued at US$421 million); mutton and goat meat, 39,775 metric tones (valued at US$421 million) and poultry 63,647. There are also plans to increase production of honey and silk to increase exports of hides and skins. The government will require an investment of UGX793.82 billion in order to achieve the plans. The livestock sub-sector plays an important role in the livelihood of approximately 1.7 million households who keep cattle as a reliable source of income, household nutrition, food security and employment.  However, majority of livestock farmers in Uganda keep animals for safekeeping their wealth. Households that keep livestock tend to be generally less poor than those who do not. The following are the country’s livestock census figures as reported by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) in 2008.

Species Cattle Goats Sheep Pigs Chicken Turkey Ducks
No. 000 11,408 12,449 3,410 3,184 37,385 348 1,458

Players in the sector

The agricultural sector is dominated by small (peasant) farmers that primary grow foods crops for their   subsistence with the balance if any for sale. A number of the peasants also grow   cash crop and practice livestock farming on a small scale.  Farming is gradually becoming mechanised although the bulk of cultivation is still done by hand or cattle driven ox ploughs.  Cash crops including tea, palms, rice, and sugarcane are grown in plantations. There are a few farmers that are also growing food crops like maize and cassava on large scale.  There are also a few farmers that have started engaging in fish farming on large scale.

Statutory institutions

The following important statutory institutions in the sector report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) for policy guidance.

  • National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO);
  • National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) for delivery of advisory services;
  • National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) for animal genetic development;
  • Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanasomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) ;
  • Diary Development Authority (DDA) for promotion of Dairy development;
  • Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) for promotion of coffee development;
  • Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) for promotion of cotton development;
  • Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture Secretariat (PMA)

Demand for agricultural produce

Demand for agricultural produce is as a result of the following:

  • Local, regional and global population growth
  • High urbanisation rate
  • International demand for organic agricultural commodities
  • Changing dietary needs
  • Demand for bio fuels
  • Rise in per capita income
  • Demand for ethical products
  • Food purchases by humanitarian organisations like World Food Programme
  • Government policy to improve the sector.

Uganda is endowment

  • Fertile Soils

About 65% of Ugandan soil is suitable for agriculture and the fertility of Uganda soil is summarized as follows:

Soils                                             Percentage of land

Soils of high productivity                8%

Soils of medium productivity         14%

Soils of fair productivity                43%

Soils of low productivity                30%

Soils of negligible productivity        5%

  • Temperatures

All year round sunshine with moderate temperatures

  • Rainfall

Uganda’s rainfall ranges between 500mm to 2500 mm and the rainfall regime allows two planting and harvesting seasons a year in most parts of the country, without the use of irrigation.

  • Fresh water

Many lakes and rivers with sizeable stocks of aquatic life and the availability of water create opportunities for irrigation and fish farming.

  • Regional demand

Uganda is surrounded by neighbouring countries that create effective demand for the   produce.

Agricultural sector access to markets

In FY16/17 Uganda expects to benefit from the implementation of the Nairobi Package under which all signatories (which include developed countries) are expected to abolish export subsidies for farm produce. Implementation of this agreement is expected to benefit local production by increasing competitiveness of local agricultural produce on both the domestic and international markets.

Challenges facing the sector

  • Limited markets and market access and related
  • marketing infrastructure
  • High cost of finance and also lack of access to agricultural credit facilities
  • Inadequate Agricultural extension services
  • Low commercial agricultural levels,
  • Lack of linkage between research and farmers,
  • Low use of fertilizers,
  • Low coverage of irrigation,
  • Land fragmentation,
  • Low level of value addition,
  • Lack of agricultural machinery,
  • Lack of effective control of vectors and diseases,
  • Poor transport network.