Development of farmer value chains for poverty eradication in four value chains in Uganda

Gilbert Kibekityo | UMA

1.0 Background Information
Eighty percent of Uganda’s land is arable but only 35% is being cultivated. In FY 2021/22, agriculture accounted for about 24.1% of GDP, and 33% of export earnings. The UBOS estimates that about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture.
The agricultural sector continues to be the largest employer, ranking first in terms of number of labour force in the Ugandan economy. Over 7 million households, representing around 80 percent of the total households in Uganda, either operated or cultivated land and/or reared livestock in 2019. The percentage increases to 87 percent if female household heads are taken into account. The Sector accounts for 48 percent of exports and provides a large proportion of the raw materials for industry.Even with the number of households participating in agriculture, Across the country, about 91,600 children and 9,500 pregnant or breastfeeding women are suffering from acute malnutrition and need treatment, according to the latest assessment by humanitarian agencies.
Because of poverty, more than four million Ugandans, representing 11.8 per cent of the population can’t afford two meals a day, according to the National Population and Housing Census. For instance, more than four million people, according to the report, consume one meal a day.
For the first time, data on agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers to monitor the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators 2.3.1 and 2.3.2 have been collected in Uganda. Results indicate a considerable gap between small and large holders in terms of labour productivity. The volume of production per labour unit of small producers is roughly half that of large producers (only 7,691 UGX among small producers compared with 13,524 UGX for large producers). Similarly, in terms of average annual farm income, smallholders’ income was estimated at less than 1 Million UGX while large-scale producers have 2.6 Million UGX (UBOS, Annual Agricultural Survey 2019).
The major cereals grown in Uganda include Millet, Maize, Sorghum, rice and wheat. Maize ranks first followed by sorghum and millet according to the area under production statistics of 2021; Maize (1,265,224 Ha), sorghum (241,326Ha) and millet (176,949 Ha).
However, even with the increasing land coverage, productivity is still lower than the country’s targets on the same.
Between January and June 2021, the Innofood Africa team at UMA engaged in data collection on value chain assessment on the selected value chains including Banana (Wakiso District), Cowpea, Sorghum and Finger Millet (Ngora and Kaberamaido Districts).

2.0 Challenges and Gaps Discovered from the Value Chain Assessment
2.1 Banana Farmers

1. There are limited banana farmer cooperatives
2. Ignorance of standard market prices
3. Ignorance of the standard market prices especially by the middlemen
4. Lack of proper means of transportation for the Matooke
5. Lack of knowledge of proper farming methods
6. Lack of proper transportation means
7. Limited access to market information
8. Limited communication between value chains actors
9. Limited logistical support especially transport and storage
10. Limited market linkages due to the middlemen who want to get the banana varieties at low prices
11. Long distance to the market
12. Low levels of market research carried out
13. Lack of land titles by the farmers which causes wrangles and fears to investing in the garden
14. High cost of improved banana suckers from the multiplication and research centres in the country

2.2 For Millet, Cow Peas, and Finger Millet

1. Ever changing Climate conditions in the districts
2. Persistent Drought conditions in the area
3. Poor and rudimentary technology used by the farmers
4. Growing families which reduces produce for sale
5. High cost of farm equipment
6. High poverty of farmers
7. Inadequate knowledge of modern production and farming techniques
8. Lack of capital to increase and improve production
9. Lack of price stabilizing mechanisms
10. Lack of proper farming skills in the available labour force
11. Lack of proper packaging materials
12. Land fragmentation as a result of the growing number of families
13. Limited knowledge of the use of fertilizers and their availability
14. Low access to information on both markets, climate data and access to improved seeds
15. Low government funding
16. Pests and diseases
17. Poor measurement methods such use of buckets (Nomis- Small Detergent buckets)
18. Poor planning methods
19. Poor quality produce
20. Subsistence nature of farming

3.0 Value addition

Farmers were requested to outline the value-addition mechanisms used at the farmgate level to increase the value and longevity of their products. Some of the value-addition mechanisms listed include the following;

i. Flour Milling,
ii. Packaging into small portions
iii. Cleaning and sorting
iv. Grinding
v. Fermenting
vi. Sun drying and roasting
vii. Weaning flour for children,
viii. drying and chopping
ix. grinding into powder
x. Cake baking, Cooking porridge,
xi. Strewing animal feeds,
xii. Blending with other flours and foods,
xiii. Production of popcorn,
xiv. Brewing.

All the methods stated are rudimentary and hardly increase the value of the product on the market beyond their locality. This tends to be a contributing factor to the low incomes and the increasing poverty among subsistence farmers in the country

4.0 Training Farmers

Based on the findings, especially the challenges, from the Value chain analysis, UMA in collaboration with UNES designed training modules to help the farmer overcome some of the challenges stated accordingly. The modules designed include the following
i. Best Management Practices in Crop Farming Value Chain
ii. Marketing and Promotion of Farming Activities for Timely Delivery in Crop Farming Value Chain
iii. Marketing Management in Crop Farming Value Chain
iv. Best Practices in Farmer Association & Agriculture Cooperatives Development in Crop Farming Value Chain
v. Marketing Plan in Crop Farming Value Chain
vi. Harnessing the Power of ICT Opportunities and Tools in the Crop Farming Value Chain
vii. Rural Value Addition and Empowerment of Consumer Groups in Crop Farming Value Chain
viii. Food Branding and Packaging in Crop Farming Value Chain
ix. Financial Literacy in Crop Farming Value Chain
x. Business modelling and Market Resource Centers will start later

As stated in the curricular development, InnoFoodAfrica skills development and training are aimed at achieving the following outcomes:
i. Increased profitability, business development, household nutrition and long-term sustainability
ii. Improve the commercial viability, price discovery mechanisms, value addition initiatives and food safety/dietary issues across the entire food VC and reduction in food waste.
iii. impact on food security, nutrition, health, and safety, as well as farmers’ income of smallholder farmers in rural Africa, especially women
iv. Farming is a form of employment, It is Business and Profitable, Farming is a source of Revenue, Farming is Food, Farming is Health

On average, the training module takes between 6 and 12 hours. Where farmers indicate a need for further understanding, more hours are allocated accordingly. Over 120 farmers have benefited from the trainings conducted so far. UMA will continually conduct these trainings to the farmers to improve their access to markets and the financial viability of their farms as a way to eliminate poverty.
The main challenge faced by the team in delivering the trainings is the language barrier which necessitates the use of translators during the training. Local support farmers are used as case studies to increase the level of understanding and localizing the case studies given during the sessions.

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