Agricultural Business Initiative Development Limited (aBi), a multi-donor company, devoted to building a competitive, profitable and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness sector in support of equitable wealth creation in Uganda, marked 10 years of existence and unveiled a new 5-year business plan at a colourful stakeholder Forum at Kampala Serena Hotel.
The forum was presided over by Hon. Matia Kasaijja, the Minister for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development and attended by a cross section of aBi stakeholders including; Development Partners, Government MDAs, aBi Implementing Partners, Financial Institutions, agribusiness private sector and relevant agribusiness advocacy platforms.
While addressing the Forum, Sarah Walusimbi, Chairperson aBi said, “Over the period 2014-18 alone, aBi Development implemented around 130 matching grant projects with a total value of an estimated USh345bn to reach over 600,000 farmers and contribute to increase in employment, household incomes and Agribusiness.”
Walusibi added that, “The thrust going forward will see aBi supporting the introduction of new Fin-Tech enabled methods to broaden and deepen financial services in rural areas to drive financial inclusion.” Further noting that, “aBi Development through its Finance division is now in position to assist a wide range of Financial Institutions (FIs) to reach out and meet the needs of agricultural businesses ranging from additional income generating businesses to the medium sized industries.”
Ms. Walusimbi observed that the targeted outcome for the new strategy is to apply more innovative financing models to strengthen the agribusiness capacity of farmer organisations (FOs) considering that the former strategy of working with FOs and NGOs in order to serve the weaker and less commercially developed value chain actors was not very successful in transforming FOs into competitive players in market systems.
Explaining the transitioning of aBi, Josephine Mukumbya, the Chief Executive Officer, noted that, “As part of the 10-year journey, 2019 saw changes in aBi’s governance aimed at making it stronger, more efficient in its decision-making, and more sustainable. In September, aBi Trust completed its transition to a new vehicle called aBi Development Ltd, a company limited by guarantee leading to the voluntary wind up of the Trust. It also birthed a new Business Plan 2019/23 currently being implemented with support from our development partners and Implementing partners” Ms. Mukumbya further highlighted.
Since inception in 2010, aBi has channeled development funding as matching grants and Business Development Services to agricultural producers and agribusinesses to enhance their management, production, productivity, value addition, income, profitability and employment.
In his remarks, the chief guest, Hon. Kasaija, on behalf of the government commended aBi and all the development partners that have supported aBi since inception and the agricultural sector in general, namely; Governments of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Germany, UK and European Union. “Your support towards the operationalization of the existing development cooperation agreement has supported the implementation of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Uganda Vision 2040. In addition, by aligning your development support to the national development priorities, you are helping in transforming Uganda from a peasantry to a modern and prosperous country.” He said.
Hon. Kasaija highlighted Uganda government’s contribution to the sector. He said that, “Government is financing value chains mainly through interventions at the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant ministries, Operation Wealth Creation, NAADS and Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) housed in Bank of Uganda,” adding that, “Under the ACF, its uptake by government and partners has steadily increased and this is reflected in portfolio of loans disbursed amounting to UGX 331 Billion, extended to 525 projects across the country, as at March 2019.”
He further emphasized; “There is a need to increase credit access to the sector through a multipronged approach focusing on all financial institutions but with special focus on the lower tier financial institutions, as they operate in close proximity to agricultural value chain actors most constrained by limited institutional capacity and financial resources.”
During the forum, which coincided with the aBi’s 10-year anniversary, Dr. Richard Pelrine, an agricultural expert and Team Leader at GIZ Agricultural Finance Project, Nigeria delivered the keynote address under the theme; Financing Agricultural Value Chains: Balancing Strong Commercial Viability with Clear Development Objectives for Agribusiness.
The panellist were; Dr. Tumubweine Twinemanzi, Executive Director Supervision at Bank of Uganda, Ms. Damali Ssali, Trade Development Expert, Trademark East Africa, Mr. Tineyi
Mawocha, Chief Executive Officer at Opportunity Bank Ltd and Mr. Collins Apuoyo, Chief of Party at Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) discussed the theme in depth as panelists.
Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing (65%). Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.