By Andrew Baba Buluba
Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) together with the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), have entered into a partnership to boost sourcing of local raw materials by UBL with special focus on 3 crops; Barley, Sorghum and Cassava.
The two parties formalized their partnership, today, by way of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed at the signing ceremony organized at Purongo – Afro-Kai Center in Nwoya District, Northern Uganda.
The five-year partnership will be anchored on UBL’s close collaboration with OWC and other relevant stakeholders and public institutions in Uganda in line with the overall goal of The Third National Development Plan (NDP III) which is “To increase household incomes and improve the quality of life of Ugandans, under the theme of Sustainable industrialization for inclusive growth, employment and wealth creation”.
The main focus of the collaboration is going to be on raising agricultural production and productivity, agro processing and value addition with respect to Barley, Sorghum, Cassava and Fruits which are intended to be locally sourced by UBL, for the purpose of expanding UBL’s range of alcoholic beverages and spirit.
Considering potential to create wealth at household levels, OWC shall under this arrangement coordinate other institutions of government such Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well other value chain actors such as the Uganda Grain Council to provide the necessary support and facilities to enable farmers through the governments Parish Development Model (PDM) to increase their production, comply and maintain quality standards during planting, harvesting and post harvesting management of all the four strategic crops that will be off taken by UBL into processing of alcoholic beverages.
To achieve this, OWC and UBL shall jointly undertake different exercises such as capacity building of selected farmers in the use of advanced agronomic practices and technologies, provide inputs, provide crop protection materials such as pesticides, herbicides to address disease control and phytosanitary challenges, coordinate extension services such soil fertility management for purposes of increasing the yield per acre for the said strategic crops among others.
In Uganda, the agricultural sector contributes over 25% of national GDP and employs over 70% of Uganda’s population which provides great conduit for economic growth and economic inclusion which both OWC and the Local Raw Materials (LRM) program seek to contribute to in line development priorities that seek to deliver Uganda to middle income status.
Further, this endeavor is in consonance with these aspirations spelt out in the country’ Development Frameworks such as the NDPIII whose signature Program is the one of Agro industrialization.
The major aim of the Agro-industrialization programme is to address the dominant subsistence sector by increasing commercialization and competitiveness of agricultural production and agro processing and facilitating import substitution and export promotion for sustainable wealth and job creation.
The Uganda Breweries Limited Local Raw Materials (LRM) program facilitates rural farmers to improve household incomes by providing a ready market for their crop. Annually, UBL spends over UGX 45 billion on farming communities in Northern, Eastern and Western Uganda.
This partnership means that with combined efforts of the two entities, farmers will be able to benefit from an even wider market for their crops.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of UBL Mr. Alvin Mbugua said joining forces with OWC increases the scope of reach which the LRM has been able to attain this far.
“As the private sector, sometimes our reach can be limited by resources and teams to manage mobilization efforts. Partnering with public sectors like we have with OWC, significantly increases the farmers that we currently reach, easily moving us from impacting over 45,000 farmers to double or more.”
Recently, UBL entered a partnership with NARO to foster and promote research and development aimed at advancing agricultural production and productivity for rural farmers.
Both UBL and the Agricultural Value chain actors led by OWC will work towards marketing and advancing export promotion of the crop by-products to the wider East African Community (EAC) and the rest of Africa and global markets as a measure to create wealth at household levels.
“A s we celebrate 25 years of existence in Uganda, we are celebrating this milestone with our farmers thanks to our partnership with OWC.”
OWC Chief Coordinator Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh (Rtd) speaking at the event on behalf of the OWC said, “The partnership is going to be a great avenue for changing the adverse position of the farmers in the value chains of those strategic crops by improving their production and productivity and having market from a willing and ready buyer in UBL, one of the biggest manufacturers and exporters in the whole of the East African Region. We aim to empower small holder farmers in most of our efforts at OWC. The role of Private Sector in achieving the government’s development agenda by driving agricultural productivity, opening up markets, and facilitating increased private investment in the sector cannot be undermined. I am very happy that UBL has come on board to support our farmers to improve their lives. It is a win-win situation for all value chain actors. I hope to see more of such Private Public Community Partnerships (PPCPs) for other strategic crops spelt out in NDPII across the country for improved household incomes’’
Gen. Salim Saleh handed over the book, Who and Where is the Farmer? to Mr. Alvin Mbugua.
The book commissioned by OWC is a compilation of a set of research done to understand the power relations of the agricultural value chain. The book revealed the dynamics around the farmer in Uganda, the demographics, average acreage, what factors impedes their production, and why they are still in subsistence production.
“This book, which I dedicate to you Mr. Mbugua, reveals that the farmer, especially the small holder farmer, that despite being the primary producer, is completely powerless with very little agency to make decisions that affect him, and is usually taken advantage of by the other players of the value chain including policy makers. They are at the very bottom of the pyramid,” concluded Gen. Saleh.