Uganda’s flower sector faces an imminent shortage of experts now that Bukalasa Agricultural College in Luweero has phased out a diploma course in floriculture. The program started in 2007 with financial help from the Dutch government to fill the gap in qualified managers and supervisors in flower firms.
According to Emmanuel Adengu, academic registrar of Bukalasa, students have shown very little interest in the course. “The turn-up has been poor, even after trying to convince students to take the course”, says Adengu. The first batch graduating in 2009 consisted of 19 students, followed by 11 graduates in 2010 and only four in 2011. The executive director of Uganda Flowers Export Association, Juliet Musoke, had hoped the training program would have reduced the dependence on expatriates, mainly from Kenya, the UK and The Netherlands.
Under the special two year course, the students have been studying horticulture in their first year and specialising in floriculture during the second year. The Netherlands government constructed classrooms and greenhouses at Bukalasa and at the Mountains of the Moon University in Western Uganda.
The floriculture course has been replaced by a new diploma course in horticulture, combining fruit-growing, vegetable-growing and flower-growing.
The flower sector in Uganda at the moment is facing a difficult period due to high operation costs and high taxes on packaging materials, making Ugandan flowers the most expensive in the region. In the last year at least five firms were forced out of business. The industry employs about 6000 people and earns the country 40 million dollars in foreign exchange yearly.