Growing the agriculture sector through partnerships

Aponye’s state of art maize processing plant in Mubende District

Aponye’s state of art maize processing plant in Mubende District

In the face of scarce resources with competing priorities, the significance of employing a true partnership to leverage resources in Agribusiness Development cannot be over emphasized.

Currently, there is a high and growing demand for agricultural produce locally, regionally and globally, the biggest challenge clearly lies in the supply side. The effects of climate change are being felt now more than ever before. It is no longer debatable to invest in appropriate irrigation or water-for-production management technologies by all farmers – small or big – given the unreliable rainfall patterns and prolonged drought that accounts for low yields in the country’s major value chains including; coffee, horticulture, cereals, pulses, dairy, herbs and spices. In addition, experts now have no choice but to join hands in finding lasting solutions to diseases and tenacious pests such as the Fall Army Worm through an Integrated Disease & Pest Management approach.

Moreover, an unrelenting response to the existing and future market opportunities that can translate into increased incomes for farmers and inclusive agribusiness growth, must ensure that a considerable amount of financial resources and technical assistance are directed at building resilient production systems as well as post-harvest handling technologies, quality management systems and processing or value addition infrastructure. This cannot be done single-handedly by government or private sector. It takes joint effort through a true partnership between private, public, local or international organizations. This kind of partnership entails joining resources, putting them to the right use and ensuring that proper implementation and accountability mechanisms are in place.

Since her inception in 2010, the Agricultural Business Initiative Trust (aBi Trust), a multi-stakeholder entity, founded by the Governments of Uganda and Denmark, has been investing in building strong partnerships with SMEs, Farmers’ Organizations, Government and NGOs using a value chain development strategy by providing grants and technical assistance to grow agribusinesses, increase farmers’ incomes and create employment opportunities, while ensuring inclusive growth for all Ugandans.  Despite facing several challenges, aBi Trust has registered many success stories with an investment of over 130 Million USD in a portfolio of more than 250 partnerships. I would like to highlight only one success story: Aponye (U) Ltd.

Aponye is a Ugandan-owned and registered company that has been in operation since 1989. The core business of the company lies in buying produce, cleaning, drying, trading and milling as well as cargo transportation. The company deals in maize, beans and sorghum and sells them to WFP, Southern Sudan, UPDF, Prisons and local markets. In 2014, aBi provided a matching grant that enabled the company to establish a state-of-the-art maize processing plant in Mubende district, and develop a farmer support system that currently serves over 10,000 households in the districts of Kibaale, Mubende, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge.  Aponye entered into a partnership with FICA Seeds and supplied good quality maize seed to its farmers and coupled with the presence of the cleaning and storage facilities, production has increased from 1 acre to 3 acres at farm level and farmers are realizing better prices. The company employs several people including women and youth and has also established a strong trading partnerships with World Food Program, Red Cross, Office of Prime Minister, and regional Markets. Through these partnerships, Aponye’s demand now stands at 30,000 MT per season way above the current supply.

This project, however, would not have been possible without the above partnerships. Moreover, Aponye would not have easily pulled off the project or worked directly with farmers and aBi’s financial resources would never have been employed in a vacuum to the benefit of the farmers. Ultimately, both Aponye and aBi share the successes associated with this project and this is exactly what it takes to have a partnership that guarantees inclusive growth. Relatedly, it is in the same spirit that aBi has partnered with Monitor Publications on the Seeds of Gold initiative!

By: Chariton Namuwoza

Head Portfolio, aBi Trust

(This article run in the 10th June 2017, Daily Monitor, Seeds of Gold Magazine)