Brothers build multi-million mixed farm in Masindi

Friday August 2 2019

Ambassador Malac (2ndL) inspects on soybeans at

Ambassador Malac (2ndL) inspects on soybeans at the farm. PHOTOs by Edgar R. Batte.  

By Edgar R. Batte

“Agilis Partners exemplifies the best of American entrepreneurship. It is walking the walk on ‘doing well and doing good.’ It is a company that invests in people and local communities; sets high standards that lead to a quality product; uses sustainable farming methods and employs cutting-edge technology in its practices. The result? It is helping the livelihoods of Ugandan farmers,” said US ambassador, Deborah Malac at the commissioning of Kigumba Farm, in Masindi, in Western Uganda.

Starting
Founded in 2013, Agilis Partners is one of Uganda’s largest maize and oilseed farming company and exporter.
Brothers Philipp Prinz and Benjamin Prinz noticed the opportunity to build a grain business while volunteering for an orphanage and primary school in Masindi District.
After noticing the opportunity, the American brothers started Agilis. Two years later they approached Joseph Initiative farmers to form a partnership.
“Agilis’ mission is to transform lives in East Africa by leading an agricultural revolution. We believe this agricultural revolution can transform lives by unleashing human potential, nourish families through an efficient food system and impact generations through massive scale and sustainability,” reads a fact sheet by the Agilis Partners.

Group farming
The group is composed of Asili Farms and the Joseph Initiative, a grain trading business and smallholder farmer agricultural services business. According to the sheet, Asili Farms is one of Uganda’s leading maize and oilseed farming business situated on 13,500 acres.
“Asili Farms’ application of conservation-based agriculture practices, promotion of sustainable land management practices, soil diversification, watershed management and crop diversification set a high standard and have achieved long-term economic sustainability,” the ambassador added.
The company fact sheet adds, “Asili Farms, in partnership with Joseph Initiative, transfers these practices to smallholder farmers through training programmes. These practices have assisted farmers to more than double their yields.”

Post-harvest
The fact sheet adds, “Joseph Initiative pioneered post-harvest handling and storage practices which reduce aflatoxin, which is a foodborne carcinogen found in grains in tropical climates, and reduce post-harvest losses. The company has also been credited with transforming Uganda’s regional brand into high-quality maize producer.”

Ambassador’s visit
Ambassador Malac further observed, “I am impressed with Agili’s use of technology to monitor operations in real time, update prices, track transactions with smallholders, monitor inventory across all Joseph Centres and storage facilities, and quickly compile reports for analysis.” She added that Uganda’s agricultural growth is helping the country progress towards the goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. “With agriculture contributing 85 per cent of export earnings and almost 75 per cent of national employment, improving efficiency in this sector is key to growing Uganda’s economy and reducing poverty.”

US to help Ugandan farmers
“The United States is committed to helping more Ugandan farmers and agricultural companies access the resources and infrastructure they need to be productive and competitive, and ensure greater food security. Through USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, we help expand production and improve storage, increase the quality of agricultural inputs, build trade networks for Ugandan agricultural products, and help farmers establish sustainable commercial operations linked to US markets,” said the US ambassador.

Market
In 2018, Joseph Initiative with Asili Farms, trained more than 3,500 farmers and sourced grain from a network of 15,000 farmers. They wholesaled enough food to feed 550,000 people in East Africa. The Joseph Initiative customers are regional food manufacturers, animal feed manufacturers and aid buyers such as World Food Programme.

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