Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda could be losing as much as USD 700m (Shs 2.5 trillion shillings) annually in exporting raw cotton, a cloth maker has claimed.
Jas Bedi, the executive director of Fine Spinners Uganda, a Bugolobi-based cloth maker said on Saturday that Uganda was earning just USD 50m (Shs 184.6billion) annually from raw cotton exports.
He said that if the country makes a simple t-shirt or any textile out of that cotton, the market can push as high USD 750million from exports. Bedi was speaking in an online meeting organized by Castle Think-tank, to discuss the cotton industry in the country during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bedi also noted that to get the best out of the industry, there needs to be a commitment on the market locally and decisiveness towards the issue of second-hand clothes that the country imports. When the government committed to buying locally made masks, Bedi said they increased their employees from 1,500 to 1,800 people in the last two months at the Bugolobi factory.
On second-hand clothes, he agrees it is a geopolitics matter and hard to get rid of for that matter. Uganda National Bureau of Standards attempted to ban their importation in April but the decision was quickly rescinded without explanation.
The United States of America (USA), where most of the used clothes are coming from has previously warned the East African Community (EAC) against banning used clothes.
In the early 2000’s, Uganda signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a public law that would have given Uganda access to the US market. One of the key exports the country has said would capitalize on was apparel. Uganda failed with the companies, including Tri-Star Apparel from Sri Lanka, supported to take advantage of the market burst.
Meanwhile, Jolly Sabune, the managing director of Cotton Development Organisation said as long as there is a 100% addition on cotton, farmers will not be growing it. This is because they earn little from it.
Meanwhile, Bedi said their international clients had closed except for Amazon, the online store. Santa Azo, the managing director of Arapapa Fashion house said they had also closed their physical locations and they will henceforth be trading their products online.
She called on the government to give a stimulus to those in the fashion industry to recover from COVID-19.