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Uganda’s Top 10 Most Exported Crops Revealed

Uganda earned US$3.339bn (Shs12.3 trillion) in 2017 from her exports combined, up from US$2.921bn (Shs10.7 trillion) in 2016, according to latest figures released by the Bank of Uganda (BoU).

Cash crops contributed greatly to the above earning. For example, coffee beat gold exports to emerge Uganda’s top foreign exchange earner.

It’s important to note that Uganda is largely an agricultural economy although about 68% of the population is still practicing subsistence farming. Additionally, Uganda’s expenditure on imports exceeds earnings from her exports, a thing that has left the Uganda Shilling weak compared to other major currencies for many years.

In this article, Business Focus reveals the top 10 crops earning Uganda millions in foreign exchange. These crops could change farmers’ fortunes and the economy at large if farmers and government prioritize them.

They will act as a guide to businessmen interested in earning foreign currency through exports.


Coffee remains Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner.

From 4.77m 60kg-bags Uganda exported in 2017, the East African country earned US$555.34m (Shs2 trillion), up from US$371.65m (1.37 trillion) recorded in 2016.

It should be noted that a few years ago government embarked on a campaign of distributing free coffee seedlings to farmers with the aim of increasing production to at least 20m-60kg bags by 2025.


Ugandan farmers are currently counting losses after maize prices hit a record low of Shs200 per kilogram.

However, the crop has emerged as a top food and cash crop for Uganda.

After coffee, maize earned Uganda US$88.53m (Shs326.8bn) in foreign exchange in 2017, up from US$70.17m (Shs259.1bn) in 2016. A year earlier, Uganda earned US$90.97m from the increasingly grown crop.


Is tea still one of Uganda’s cash crops? Many people would ask. At least according to BoU figures, tea which is mainly grown by companies on a large scale and a few out growers is still one of the country’s major cash crops.

In 2017, Uganda earned US$79.58m (Shs293.7bn) from tea exports, up from US$71.58m (Shs258.2bn) in 2016. A year earlier, the country earned US$69.94m from tea exports.


Beans are a major source of sauce in Uganda. The crop hasn’t received much attention from farmers and government, but it is one of the major crops earning Uganda millions in foreign exchange.

In 2017, beans earned Uganda US$77.88m (Shs287.4bn), up from US$38.26m (Shs141.2bn) in 2016. In 2015, the crop fetched the East African country US$53.88m.


In Uganda, flowers are largely grown by big firms.  Uganda fetched US$57.76m (Shs213.2bn) in 2017 from flower exports, up from US$51.65m (Shs190.7bn) in 2016.

Flowers have potential to bring in more foreign exchange if more investors join its growing.

Cocoa Beans

Ugandans are increasingly taking on cocoa growing and the crop is earning the country millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

In 2017, the country fetched US$54.34m (Shs200.5bn), up from US$75m (Shs276.9bn) in 2016.

In 2015, Uganda earned US$55.67m in cocoa beans.


Although Uganda came up with tough law on the tobacco industry, the crop is still grown in some parts of Uganda and remains one of the top foreign exchange earners.

In 2017, tobacco earned Uganda US$46.30m (Shs170.9bn), down from US$61.73m (Shs227.9bn) recorded in 2016. In 2015, Uganda earned US$73.13m from tobacco exports. The decline in earnings is due to        the tough law that has seen British American Tobacco quit leaf production and concentrate on marketing and distribution of cigarettes.

Fruits and Vegetables

Uganda’s fruits and vegetables are highly sought in the international market although the East African country is yet to fully seize the opportunity.

Fruits and vegetables earned Uganda US$37.46m (Shs138.3bn) in 2017, down from US$43.2m (Shs159.4bn) in 2016. In 2016, fruits and vegetables earned Uganda US$32.1m.


Rice is one of the global food and cash crops. The crop earned Uganda US$27.19m (Shs100.4bn) in 2017, up from US$20.36m (Shs75.1bn) in 2016.


Simsim which is mainly grown in Eastern and Northern parts of Uganda also earns Uganda a few million dollars. In 2017, it fetched Uganda US$17.17m (Shs63.38bn), up from US$14.52m (Shs53.6bn) in 2016. A year earlier, it earned Uganda US$52.20m.

Uganda’s Top 10 Exported Crops As Of 2017

Crop Earning In US$
Coffee 555.34m
Maize 88.53m
Tea 79.58m
Beans 77.88m
Flowers 57.76m
Cocoa Beans 54.34m
Tobacco 46.30m
Fruits and Vegetables 37.46m
Rice 27.19m
Simsim 17.17m



Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

7 thoughts on “Uganda’s Top 10 Most Exported Crops Revealed

  1. Benson Katema

    I would like to venture into coffee farming at large scale.i will start with forty acres.

  2. Good analysis. My Coffee is there!

  3. Byamukama Andrew

    Good afternoon to everybody. Hoping this mail finds you well.
    Uganda Development bank is the only Development Finance Institution that is wholly owned by the Government of Uganda. The bank provides sustainable and affordable finance to projects in the five priority sectors of the economy. These projects are Agriculture and Agro Processing, Manufacturing, Tourism and Hospitality, Human capital Development (Health and Education) and Infrastructure.
    In Agriculture and agro processing, the bank is much interested in financing projects in the 12 value chains as indicated in the National Development Plan Two.

    These value chains are maize, coffee, tea, cotton, rice, cassava, cotton, beans, dairy, fish farming, Citrus and Oil seed crops.We finance both primary production and agro processing to both existing and green field projects/start ups.

    The bank provides concessional funding with a minimum loan amount of Ugx 100 million and maximum of about Ugx 40 billion depending on the capacity of the institution. We have short term working capital up to three years, mid term loans up to 8 years and the long term loan up to 15 years with a grace period of up to three years depending on the nature of the project we are investing in.
    Other loan products that the bank offers are asset financing where the assets that the bank finances becomes the primary security. The bank also offers advisory services at free cost.

    The categories of clients that the bank finances are registered entities such as companies, Farmer groups and associations, and financial institutions that are regulated by the Bank of Uganda.

    For those that are interested in accessing loans from UDBL Please do not hesitate to contact me on Tel 0773956228 or email me on abyamukama@udbl.co.ug to guide you with the procedures to be followed or arrange for a meeting to have detailed discussion on the way forward.

    Andro Byamukama
    Senior Investment Officer Agriculture
    at Uganda Development Bank Limited

  4. Am very happy to see guys active here.I like that.

  5. Jacob Okot

    I love what you guys are doing and I would love to take part in it

  6. I would like join the group

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