Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) has emerged as a key player in the organic sesame industry, ensuring quality and empowering farmers in the region. With a focus on certified organic supplies and sustainable practices, GADC has established itself as a leading exporter to Europe, Japan, the US, and other countries.
Rahim Haliminski, the Sesame Operations Manager and Project Manager of GADC, emphasized the importance of maintaining quality throughout the supply chain. “To ensure quality, sesame must first come to the Gulu central processing facility before export,” he stated. “We fumigate all our products with carbon dioxide to meet the specific requirements of certified organic supplies. This ensures the elimination of bugs without the use of pesticides.”
Working closely with buying agents, GADC facilitates the purchase and delivery of sesame from the field to its processing plant in Gulu. Haliminski highlighted the advantages of formal relationships with farmers, stating, “We have formal relations with farmers, which sets us apart from other buyers. This provides stability and lasting partnerships that benefit both parties.”
GADC has trained and works with approximately 20,000 farmers, of which 7,000 are certified. Haliminski explained that uncertified farmers have alternative options for selling their produce. “Uncertified farmers can choose to sell to other suppliers or in the open market,” he said. “We offer competitive prices, about sh5,500 per kilogramme, which is 5-10% higher than the gate price.”
With support from aBi Development, GADC has made significant progress in expanding its capacity and acquiring essential equipment. “In the past, we could only sell to industrial clients who had the capacity to reclean the sesame,” Haliminski explained. “But with aBi Development’s support, we have acquired a UV machine and a maize mill, enabling us to broaden our customer base.”
GADC prioritizes qualified personnel and maintains partnerships with local governments to recruit capable individuals. However, Haliminski acknowledged the need for gender inclusivity in employment practices. “For us to track the number of women and improve representation, we need to establish targets within our existing framework,” he stated. “Involving men in the process is crucial for affirmative action in female employment.”
The organic nature of GADC’s products provides an added advantage. “Organic products are low risk because we know exactly where they come from, ensuring quality and safety,” Haliminski explained. Regular soil testing and the use of organic pesticides, such as tobacco leaves, neem tree leaves, and ash, contribute to sustainable farming practices.
Reflecting on the partnership with aBi Development, Haliminski expressed gratitude for the support received. “The project incentivized us to work more closely with farmers and improve our operations,” he said. “We have made significant strides, although challenges like indoor residual spraying affecting our outputs have emerged.”
Since its inception in 2006, formally incorporated in 2008, GADC has remained committed to promoting organic agriculture, empowering farmers, and driving sustainable development in the sesame industry. With ongoing efforts to enhance quality, expand capacity, and foster inclusive practices, GADC continues to be at the forefront of organic sesame exports, contributing to the growth of the agricultural sector in Uganda.