Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) has launched the “Building the Resilience of Smallholder Farmers through Increasing Access to Agro-Inputs” Project in Uganda with six of its partners. In Eastern and Central Uganda, it was launched in Serere and Mubende districts respectively on 31st July 2020. This grant support, targeting 37,217 farmers across the country is intended to build the resilience of the farmers through increasing access to agro-inputs, specifically improved seeds and fertilizer, so as to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the farmers livelihoods and incomes. Partners currently implementing this project include: MMACKS Investment Ltd, Arise & Shine Ltd, Aponye Uganda Ltd, Acila Enterprises Ltd, Agroways (U) Ltd and Grow More Seeds & Chemicals Ltd. The total cost of the project is UGX 19.7 Bn of which aBi has committed UGX 15.8 Bn and the participating implementing partners and farmers will contribute UGX 3.9 Bn over the course of this 2-year project.
The first batch of agro-inputs were distributed through ACILA Enterprises Ltd and MMacks Investments Ltd. The beneficiary farmers were from the districts of Serere, Abim, Amuria, Agago, Ngora Kaberamaido, Mubende, Kakumiro, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa. The distribution of seeds and fertilizers to all the beneficiary farmers by the six participating partners spread throughout the country is expected to be completed by the end of August 2020 for the 1st season.
During the launch in Serere district, Mr. Geoffrey Okidi, aBi’s Head of Portfolio Development, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains, slowed down trade, investment, and fiscal revenue while reducing incomes and food security. Lower prices as a result of depressed purchasing power and markets, low production from the lack of inputs and extension services prompted aBi to design this short-term intervention to enable farmers access improved seeds and fertilizers. The direct subsidy of fertilizers and seeds to farmers is to ensure that maize, beans and vegetable oil crops are grown and traded to agribusinesses supplying Uganda’s food markets thereby supporting food and nutrition security and trade”.
The project will witness the distribution of at least 2.4 million MT of fertilizers and 1.1 million MT of seeds distributed over the life of the project. 37,217 acres of land is expected to be cultivated for the production of maize, beans, sunflower and soy under this project. Consequently, this will boost food and cash crop production to generate total additional income of UGX36 bn to the beneficiary farmers and UGX 72 bn to participating SMEs for sustainability of the value chains.
The implementation of the project will run through 3 seasons (2020B, 2021A, 2021B). The six implementing partners/ SMEs are expected to provide market for the farmers produce at the end of each season. The distribution of seed and fertilizer is at declining rates of subsidy over the three seasons. In the current season 2020B, the farmer is being given 100% subsidy based on his/ her acreage or historical sales through any of the six participating aBi partners (SMEs). In the subsequent season, the farmer will contribute 20% of the cost of seed and fertilizer while aBi reduces its contribution to 80%. The farmer will then contribute 40% and aBi further reduces contribution to 60% in season 2021B. Beyond this period, the farmer is expected to have realized the benefits of using fertilizer and should continue to use fertilizer while paying for it by themselves. At the end of the third season, aBi will conduct a survey among the enterprises that are part of the supported value chains to ascertain how they were impacted by the intervention. This will guide future programming.
Hon. Aujo Asinget, Secretary Production/ LC III, Serere District commended aBi and its partners for this intervention that is in line with the 3rd National Development Plan (NDP). She challenged the farmers to increase their production and productivity to take advantage of the existing market linkages provided by the project that will ensure that whatever the farmers produce is bought by the market leaving only enough for consumption. Mr. Ebwaku James, District Commercial Officer, Serere said that market linkages will greatly boost their income and ensure sustainability of the farmers and the agribusinesses involved in this project. The district leadership made a commitment to participate in the monitoring of targeted farmers to ensure that the inputs are put to proper use. Relatedly, farmers were urged to improve quality of produce by drying their produce using tarpaulins to fetch better prices.
On their part, the farmers welcomed this support and commended aBi, a private company, for providing subsidies during a time of crisis, and committed to make good use of the inputs. The farmers called on the District Local Government, aBi and its partners for more extension services to enable farmers adopt good agronomic practices for increased production, productivity and quality of produce.
The project beneficiaries include; smallholder farmers, input suppliers, agribusiness SMEs, and financial institutions.