Farmers get skills in value addition

Moses Gateja, the partnership manager at Swisscontact displays sachets of cocoa after value addition Photo/ Godfrey Lugaaju

What you need to know:

  • The journey of turning raw agricultural products into market-ready goods in Uganda faces several challenges that are not limited to quality control issues, post-harvest handling, concerns, storage challenges, among other things.

Swisscontact, a development partner has tipped farmers on the different techniques they can apply to reap big from their produce through value addition.
According to these development partners, there are a number of opportunities in the value addition chain that Ugandan farmers have not explored.

Speaking on the sidelines of the development partner’s 25th anniversary celebrations in Kampala last week, Moses Gateja, the partnership manager at Swisscontact explained that opportunities lie in both crop and animal industries, as well as aquaculture.
He said value addition through agro-industries and agro-food industries presents promising prospects and producing improved seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides offers a lucrative opportunity.

“Establishing cold storage facilities and efficient logistics systems is a growth area. Manufacturing and assembling farm machinery present valuable opportunities in the value chain. Also, investing in the packaging sector can significantly contribute to the value addition process, he said.

Gateja shared that opportunities also exist in developing and managing irrigation schemes to enhance agricultural productivity.
Value addition enhances agricultural efficiency, increases farm incomes, reduces production costs, introduces novel products, and minimizes environmental impact, thereby contributing significantly to food security.
Gifted with fertile soils, improving its fertility, conserving natural resources, adapting to climate change, implementing strong regulatory mechanisms, ensuring market access, promoting proper food practices, and adopting appropriate technologies are crucial steps toward achieving food security in Uganda.

The journey of turning raw agricultural products into market-ready goods in Uganda faces several challenges that are not limited to quality control issues, post-harvest handling, concerns, storage challenges, among other things. 
Uganda is still majorly looking at less value addition and exporting more which makes us lose a lot of foreign exchange since raw product supply leads to fluctuation of prices.
Mr Gateja reveals that a deficient transportation system hampers the efficient movement of goods, impacting market access.

He explains that challenges to do with transportation, storage, and unfair business practices hinder market access, affecting sales.
“Access to affordable financing is a significant hurdle, impacting the entire agricultural value chain. Packaging is a vital aspect of product presentation, yet local options are limited, hindering market competitiveness,” he says, adding that energy, particularly solar, is crucial for basic processing, emphasizing the need for reliable and accessible power.

Most farmers do not have capital and financial institutions do not trust them for credit. Swisscontact does co-financing with the private sector as there are companies that are willing to grow their supply chain for a farmer to attain all he wants.
What can be done?
Agriculture is the highest employer in the country but given the challenges, the sector is left relying more on the farm gate prices which has no benefit to the farmer.
According to Gateja, educating farmers on quality management, contractual agreements, and the impact of quality on prices is crucial. 

He says establishing communal facilities for post-harvest needs can help smaller producers invest in essential infrastructure as well.
“Collaborative efforts such as cooperatives provide a solution for consistent product supply in the market. There should also be access to low-cost short-term financing as a key to overcoming cash flow challenges in the agricultural value chain,” he shared.
Gateja adds that advocating for tax waivers on packaging materials for locally processed agricultural produce can enhance product presentation. 

This with wider electricity coverage is essential for maintaining quality in primary value-addition activities. 
With co-financing, Swisscontact meets 40 per cent of the cost share and the company meets the 60. 
This helps to facilitate training, health and safety protocols, and to build awareness, sensitisation to the farmer to churn out good products.

Over the last 25 years, Swisscontact has invested immensely in areas of Agriculture and value addition, something that has created a number of opportunities for youth and women.
Swisscontact currently operates two projects under sustainable agriculture. Dynamic Markets which deals in Cocoa and Honey and Uthabiti for refugees in Nakivale and Lamino for Onfarm (beans, maize and horticulture)  and Offarm (strengthening markets, , farm inputs, practices and market access) activities