Mini-estates project

Mini Estate interiorvalue addition by cleaning

Agro business development

Goal: to support the transformation of subsistence farmers into commercial farmers

URDT was selected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to pilot together with the farmers in Kibaale District the concept of value addition in agriculture and move subsistence farmers, especially women, to become commercial farmers.

This Public Private Partnership project has 2 main strategies:

 1. Establish effective farmer-lead primary societies. The steps to attain this are:

  • farmer training-in agronomical practices with a view to be market oriented producers
  • the trained farmers create groups for ease of marketing to their primary societies
  • the primary societies dealing in similar farm products create higher level farmer associations for basic value addition

2. Establish a profitable agro-processing plant. URDT partners with high level farmers groups to manage an agro-processing plant. The so called the “mini-estate”.

Achievements Capacity Building of Farmer Lead Primary Societies:

  • 1.200 farmers (40 farmer groups each with 30 members) trained and monitored to strengthen their capacities in disciplines of farming as a business.
  • 10 collection centres for bulking established and equipped with tarpaulins, weighing machines, moisture content meters, driers and shellers which is enhancing quality.
  • Bulking reduced post-harvest losses by 40%.
  • 10 marketing committees trained to gain market access by the groups
  • 3 groups started the process of registration into Area Cooperatives
  • 8 Higher Level Farmer Organizations established with each a membership between 150-400 farmers
  • Collective marketing 92.8 tons of maize at higher price resulting in increased incomes of those who participated.
  • Women participation increased from 17.4% to 38.5%

Achievements: Agro-processing section:

Aim: to provide value addition services to the organized groups both at primary and secondary level. Below the achievements:

  • FAO, through the MAAIF, provided 4 sets of value addition equipment for maize mill, animal and human feeds, and oil mil and cassava starch in 2011. The maize mill and animal feeds have a capacity 1.5 tons per hour
  • URDT donated land, management services, security, technical staff and raised capital to invest in the construction of the plant buildings to house the processing.
  • Farmer groups signed Memorandum of Understanding with supplies
  • 1087 farmers trained in Farming as a Business, contract farming, Enterprise selection, Negotiation skills, Bulking, Collective Marketing, and Conversion of farm products. In total 669 (61.5%) males 418 (38.5%) females
  • 15% of the farmers trained practices bulking
  • Women participation in groups increased from 17.4% to 38.5%
  • The factory was officially opened by HE King of Bunyoro Kitara, His Highness Rukira Abasaija Agutamba Solomon Iguru 1.on the 24th November 2012

Areas of further support

  • The maize mill needs funds to be re-aligned. Some parts are yet to be delivered
  • Construction of a perimeter wall around the plant as a good manufacturing practice and extension of water supply.
  • Investment in the purchase of inputs as initial capital to match the increasing demand

Lessons learnt

  • Farmers who collectively bulked attracted high prices of an average of 700/= (compared to 465/=) per kg
  • Farmer sold at a loss given that individual selling highest price was 465/= and unit production cost is 565/= per kg
  • The idea to construct a value addition plant after capacity building of farmers was an effective way to increase agriculture production through the value chain approach
  • The transformation from subsistence to commercial farming needs time. Mind-set change packages need to be developed based on the experience gained
  • Information needs to be researched and its destination carefully done. Some farmers still believe that low levels of fertilizers are a hazard to environment
  • Disseminating information through community radio is cost effective. It provides easy access to farmers on appropriate technologies like improved seeds, storage and drying mechanisms

 Challenges

  • The lack of parts of the maize mill made the animal feeds plant so expensive as maize grains were used instead of maize bran
  • More capacity building for farmers needed to adopt the enterprise mix strategy which will provide a market for the animal feeds plant
  • Buyers from outside Uganda did not consider value for farmers who ensured quality
  • The sector is still largely in hands of illiterate populating (87% dropped out in primary and 10% secondary and 3% tertiary. This affects the adoptability of appropriate technologies available to them
  • The inaccessible roads affected farm products price. Farmers who sold individually got low prices
  • Availability of post harvest handling facilities at farm level is still wanting
  • Un favourable weather conditions like prolonged drought and heavy rains

Next steps:

  • Consolidate the existing groups and expand the programme
  • Set up a shareholding system. The famers can buy shares through farm products especially maize. The capital raised through shares will be used to run the mini-estate
  • Higher level farmer organization register at District level and later with Uganda Cooperative Alliance, UCA. These will buy shares as will be determined through a business plan and MoU between URDT and farmer organisations
  • Surplus income will be used for expansion of the mini-estate to cover machinery and equipment to process other grains and fruits
  • In the long run, different groups (especially women, youth) will use processing facilities to add value to their produce
  • The mini estate will help in packaging, branding and distribution. In return the groups will pay a small fee for such services
  • It is also planned that the value addition section: i) generates its own income through the services to sustain itself, ii) invests in other value chains for farmers; iii) offers capacity building consultancies to generate more income to expand the services offered by URDT