Exports: Are markets more important than strategy?

Markets need to be tapped for the export cycle to be complete.

You might claim to have the best products but if the market does not know, you remain in the same position.

Market-led production is a good starting point in which you find out what the market needs and then go ahead and produce it. This saves you from working in the dark. Rather, you operate with a clear focus and light at the end of the tunnel.

Whereas markets are important, it is more important for Uganda to have a strategy on how it wants to execute export trade. As a country, are we focusing regionally or globally?

Which particular agricultural products are we banking on to grow our exports? If the answer to these questions is everywhere and everything,

then there lies the problem.

Granted, we can actually export any product to any region. However, as a country we need to have a strategy which will allow us to invest scarce resources to grow that specific agricultural product.

The beauty of this is that when you promote one product, the other exports will ride on its success opening markets for a chain of other commodities.

Strategy should be made at both national and company level. A situational analysis must be made. What is the existing state of affairs? This can easily be done by doing a strategic analysis focusing on external and internal factors.

Internally, what are the strengths and weaknesses as a nation and company?

Externally, what are the opportunities and threats your company is likely to face? The acronym for this is SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

This is an honest diagnosis of your present situation.

Its equivalent to going for a check-up at the hospital. Doctors will tell you what you are doing well and what needs improvement for you to enjoy good health. The same applies to the export business.

You need to understand your strong and weak points to have a leverage on the road ahead.

If you are into vegetable exports you will question the reliability of the out-growers in your database. Presence of a cold chain transport network from farm to the airport is also key.

Organic production to reduce and eliminate the risk of maximum residue levels (MRLs). Extension services to ensure that your farmers are not indiscriminately spraying pesticides. Preparation of seedlings, farm inputs, use of fertilisers and irrigation go a long way in the quality of final export products.

After the strategic analysis has been undertaken, export companies need to have; a vision, goals and objectives, strategic choices and actions.

What is the vision of your export company? What goals do you want to achieve in the short, medium and long term?

If Uganda experiences prolonged episodes of drought, will you abandon the idea of agro-exports or invest in rain water harvesting and irrigation equipment?

Are you in export business for the long journey or you just want to get a quick buck as it is done with sports betting? Strategic choices and actions need to be heightened so that you can build capacity for the final stage.

Source: New Vision


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