Countrywide study on agricultural financing, Potato Platform launched in Uganda. Agribusiness incubation highlighted as means for job creation and technology commercialisation

In close collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the German Development Agency (giz), the FAO, IFDC and government of Uganda, the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance (UAA) organised a 2-day Agricultural Investment Facilitation Conference from the 27th to the 28th of November in Kampala.

The conference was informed by the need to increase engagement between the private sector, government and Development Partners to push agribusiness development.

Above: Representatives of partner organisations, farmer groups, government and the private sector at the meetings in Kampala.

Mitigated risks, higher investment

As an opener to the two-day meetings, a lead panel of representatives from UAA, Kilimo Trust, the Grow Africa Initiative and the Vegetable Oil Development Project in the Agriculture Ministry (VODP2) explored options for coordinated de-risking of Agriculture based on partnerships.

This, according to Birungi Korutaro a Markets and Policy Analyst with Kilimo Trust was targeted at finding ways to attract increased financing for agriculture despite the sector’s “high risk” nature.

Here, formulation of well-organised agricultural cooperatives and the development of responsive financing packages by the banks and insurance companies were fronted as part of the solution.

The result of a study of agricultural financing trends in Uganda, the Agriculture Finance Diagnostic Mapping Report was launched on day one by the convenors joined by Keith Muhakanizi the Secretary to the Treasury from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who represented the Cabinet Minister.

The Report covers existing risks, opportunities and recommendations of the Agriculture Finance Platform (AFP) and partners for improvement in financing for agriculture.

Left to right: Edward Katende the CEO of the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance (UAA), Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko the Founding Chairperson of the Alliance and Keith Muhakanizi the Secretary to the Treasury from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who represented the Cabinet Minister at the launch of the Diagnostic Report in Kampala.

Focus on youth and women

As groups challenged largely by difficulties in access to financing, youth and women had their issues discussed with the end target of proposing solutions.

A major recommendation here was directed to financial institutions to put more consideration for gender when developing packages for agricultural financing.

Agribusiness incubators, which channel customised financing to youth and women-led SMEs were highlighted as part of the focus of the Alliance and its partners by the CEO Edward Katende in this section.

Uganda is host to agribusiness incubators like AfriBanana Products Limited which is mainly a banana value chain incubator and the Consortium for University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD) mainly but not limited to coffee value chain. These are working hand in hand with UAA in a bid to raise the country’s benefit from agribusiness incubation exhibited over the years.

A platform for the potato value chain

The second day of the meetings was the inaugural Uganda National Potato Congress which in addition to exploring value chain bottlenecks and opportunities for potato farmers and dealers also included the launch of the Uganda National Potato Platform.

The Congress was attended by representatives of leading groups of thousands of potato farmers and traders from across Uganda and the launch was officially done by Erick Sile, in representation of NEPAD joined by the leadership of the Union and UAA. Erick Sile noted NEPAD’s willingness to continue supporting initiatives such as these that were launched as a means of working towards targets of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Above: Erick Sile (2nd Right) represented NEPAD, a major partner with UAA in setting up such fora for agribusiness development.

Opportunities along the potato value chain in Uganda and East Africa remain numerous as noted by in research by the International Potato Center which shows that Potato production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has more than doubled since 1994 with 70% of that growth concentrated in Eastern Africa.

Among these are opportunities for increased value addition, high demand on the regional market with more to be done to achieve desired standards and quality across production areas and markets as well as infrastructure.

AAIN was represented at the investment conference by Prof George Tumwesigye the Board Secretary, Ambrose Owoesigire and the CEO of Excel Hort Consult in support of the UAA team whose mission is to “To unify and engage key agricultural value chains actors in developing a competitive, sustainable and inclusive agribusiness sector through constructive dialogue, innovation, action, entrepreneurship and partnerships.”

The commitment of the government of Uganda to continue working with the private sector and bettering the investment environment for agribusiness was emphasized by the Agriculture Minister Hon. Vicent Sempijja in a speech presented by the Commissioner for Agribusiness.