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LRA war victims beat odds to succeed in dairy farming



Mr Patrick Ben Oloya chops pastures to feed his cow in Koro-pida Village, Koro Sub-county, in Omoro District last week. PHOTO | TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY 

An aura of happiness hangs over Ms Joska Acoro’s home in Awic Village, Unyama Sub-county in Gulu District.

In the compound, there is an unusual sight of piles of freshly cut grass to feed a Friesian cow and a heifer in the backyard.

Every day, Ms Acoro wakes up at 6am to clean the kraal and wash the cans for the 7am milking schedule. Upon delivering the milk at Unyama Trading Centre, she returns to look for fresh grass to feed the cows.

“Once I bring the grass, my husband feeds them and does the afternoon milking. Once we are done with the crop harvest, we should be able to roof our new building and refurbish the kraal since the mother cow is expectant,” Ms Acoro says.

Together with her husband, Mr Michael Opira, the couple is spreading in the sun 16 bags of groundnuts they recently harvested and expects another 10 bags of maize from a field that is nearing harvest.

The outbreak of the LRA war in 1986 did not only claim thousands of lives but rid the region of the remaining livestock since people were forced into displaced people’s camps.
As the region recovers from the impact of the conflict, Ms Acoro is one of the 46 peasants in Gulu and Omoro districts who are reaping from milk production.

“Initially, I was criticised for going for dairy cows but when I started selling the milk, a lot of women come home to seek advice on starting it, I can now deposit the biggest amount of money in our Ribe-ber VSLA group,” she said.

Looking back
In 2017, the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd (MSC), a government credit financial institution, partnered with Heifer International, a local NGO, to provide dairy animals on loan to farmers in Unyama and Koro sub-counties of Gulu and Omoro districts, respectively.

A total of 46 dairy animals were given to farmers upon vetting.Farmer groups, associations and cooperative societies were assessed to define their vulnerability.

The beneficiaries were then subjected to training in finance management and dairy production.

Five of the 46 beneficiaries visited by Daily Monitor were able to afford meals, meet household expenses every day as well as pay school fees for their children from the money raised from milk sales.

Mr Patrick Ben Oloya, a 63-year-old resident of Koro-pida Village, Koro Sub-county in Omoro District, is one such beneficiary who received a heifer worth Shs3.3million under the loan scheme in 2018.
“A lot of things have changed since I got the cow that has now produced two other animals. From the cow, I and my family get milk, and I sell some of it to service the loan with MSC, pay medication and food bills,” he says.

From his record books, the cow gives Mr Oloya eight to 10 litres of milk a day, which translates to between Shs16,000 and Shs20,000 per day.

Mr Joel Ludwali, MSC’s credit officer for the northern region, said government embarked on a venture that primarily intended to improve livelihoods and household incomes of the vulnerable poor.

“The target of this initiative was to eradicate poverty and demystify a belief that diary or beef production were unavailable in the region even when all the production factors are lying idle and wasting away,” Mr Ludwali said.

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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Smallholder Farmers Can Now Access Agricultural Credit Facility Without Collateral



The Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) has devised a path-breaking innovation of block allocation to enable farmers access loans based on alternative collateral such as chattel mortgages, cash flow based financing, and character-based loans, among others, Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego, Deputy Governor, Bank of Uganda, has revealed.

“This innovation is unlocking access to credit in areas with communal land tenure; and most especially, for micro and smallholder farmers who are otherwise excluded for lack of collateral to secure credit.

“By September 2020, the ACF had advanced UGX 2.8 billion to 187 small and micro borrowers with non-traditional collateral under block allocation,” he said.

The ACF is administered by the Bank of Uganda on behalf of the Government of Uganda.

The Deputy Governor said that through this innovation, the ACF working with the participating institutions, has extended loans of up to UGX 20 million to small-scale farmers.

He further said that block allocations support financial inclusion and advance equity in economic activity by serving women and youths with limited property rights.

Dr. Atingi-Ego made the remarks just before he a launched the 2020 Agricultural Finance Yearbook at Imperial Royal Hotel, Kampala on Tuesday.

The Agricultural Finance Yearbook  has produced by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) since 2014/15.

The yearbook contains several agri-financing models for various commodities such as rice, dairy, coffee, among others. The models have some standard features:aggregation of producers for economies of scale, functional linkages between value chain actors (input distributors, extension agents, agri-markets information providers, producers, storage units, marketing agents, processors, financial service providers, wherein some players are ‘lead agents’ in the segments where value chains are weak.

The Ugandan economy is still heavily reliant on agriculture, with 69 percent of households dependent on subsistence farming and nearly 75 percent of all households.

Atingi-Ego  revealed that the share of value-added by the agriculture sector in the economy stands at about 25 percent, presently.

“Boldly facing these facts, it is clear that whenever the BoU announces the Central Bank Rate (CBR), the intended policy signal may not penetrate through to the majority of the population. It is, also, quite evident that the route for the CBR signals to reach the people will be unblocked through agricultural finance,” Atingi-Ego said.

He added: “Fortunately, by seeking to close the information gap between agriculture and finance, these yearbooks bring much-needed illumination to the recesses of information asymmetry, thereby improving risk analysis and credit scoring of agricultural credit.”


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Uganda’s coffee exports on the rise



The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) says that the country’s coffee exports are increasing, showing a gradual rise in the last two years.

“Coffee exports for Sep 2019 to Oct 2020 totalled to 5,409,054 bags worth $513.99m compared to 4,465,534 bags worth $435.81m the previous year,” UCDA noted in a tweet on Wednesday.

“This is a 20% and 18% increase in quantity and value. Performance attributed to increase in production, fruitation of new coffee trees and good weather,” the authority added.

In the last one year (since June 2019), the highest earnings from coffee exports of $48.2m were registered in January 2020 followed by the August 2019 earnings of $46.3m.

More so, Uganda’s coffee was ranked third best in the world by cup tasters who graded 1,229 coffees from around the world.

According to the Research Gate, studies show that Uganda is one of the largest producing and exporting countries of coffee products in the world.

Coffee production has heavily contributed to both domestic and foreign earnings in the country.

Moreover, coffee also serves as a primary source of labour, especially for the rural smallholder farmers.

Original Post: New Vision

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Agriculture rebounds as economy recovers



Prices of agricultural products are starting to rebound as the easing of lockdown measures in Uganda open up places of food consumption.

Evans Nakhokho, the chief manager, Agribusiness at Centenary bank, said during a thought-leadership forum hosted by the bank that economic recovery interventions had triggered a five per cent increase in food prices.

“The five percentage point price improvement is largely attributed to the gradual recovery of activities in the agricultural sector and the economy as a whole. A case in point is the improved price of matoke and other foodstuffs,” Nakhokho said.

Key to this recovery is the role that has been played by both financial and non-financial services in helping to ease the access of credit to framers, which, according to Nakhokho, raised the fortunes in the sector.

“Financing plays an instrumental role in boosting agricultural activities. The structured ecosystem that focuses on both financial and non-financial services has enabled the utilization of credit. This year, we have disbursed close to Shs 600 billion, of which 60 per cent has been issued to smallholder farmers.”

The symbiotic relationship shared by the banking sector and agriculture means that both have been pivotal to each other’s recovery efforts, according to Nakhokho.

“Agriculture financing contributes about 12 per cent of the total lending to all sectors in the banking industry, which is approximately Shs 2 trillion,” he said.

Beyond the financing, banks have also offered guidance to their customers in relation to managing their credit and how it can be invested for a strong return on investment, according to Nakhokho. He said they had reviewed business projects and even restructured the loans to make it easier for customers to pay back the money.


Mona Ssebuliba, chief operating officer, Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi), said their focus as an organization has been on stabilizing and strengthening financial institutions to ensure that agribusiness financing is supported.

“This has been implemented by rescheduling lines of credit (principal and interest) for a period of 12 months, reduced interest rate from an average of 13.5 per cent to 8.2 per cent on all running facilities…”

Ssebuliba said. Ssebuliba said farmers have to improve their businesses if they are to survive other challenges. He advised commercial farmers to have “the ability to swiftly adapt to improved business models, digitizing for improved resilience, business monitoring, and putting in place business continuity plans for the unexpected occurrences…”


Martin Fowler, the agriculture adviser, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Uganda, recently stated that the Covid-19 lockdown presented mixed results in the prices of food. According to Fowler, there was a slight spike in staple food prices between March and April, followed by a slight decline, though, to August.

“Maize prices rose rapidly in the early weeks of Covid-19 lockdown (mid- March to April) from Shs 1,129 to Shs 1,458 per kg. This trend was caused by a combination of panic buying, speculation, government purchases and supply-chain disruptions. Other staples mirrored this trend,” Fowler said.

According to Fowler, food prices currently remain close to (significantly above, in the case of beans) 2019 levels and the five-year (2015-2019) averages, which shows that the sector has for the meantime managed to weather the storm from the impact of Covid-19 on the agricultural sector.

Effecting of the lockdown by the government, therefore, led to a decline in effective demand for food, which reduced household incomes, according to USAID.

Agriculture experts have now projected that the significant loss of formal sector jobs and incomes as a result of the impact of Covid-19 will continue to impact negatively the domestic demand for food, and their prices on the market. Similarly, international and regional demand prospects for agricultural commodities remain uncertain despite the improvement in food prices.

Original Post: The Observer

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