New grain equipment to benefit Ugandan smallholders

Published on 14 January 2014

Local media interest for the new equipment in Jinja that will help farmers to clean, dry, grade and finally bag their grains. Copyright: WFP/Ken Davies

The Government of Uganda and WFP are combining their efforts to assist smallholder farmers increase production and improve grain quality and crop value. Recently, they marked the commissioning of a cleaning and drying facility installed at the Upland Rice Millers warehouse in the town of Jinja. The new grain processing equipment has been leased to the local milling company, to benefit smallholder farmers in the area. 

Smallholders in Uganda are often unable to access formal markets. One of the challenges facing them is poor quality grain caused by the lack of appropriate practices and modern warehouses. Because of this, one of P4P’s key activities in Uganda has been to work with farmers and private sector actors to improve storage facilities through the provision of modern grain processing equipment, which is used to clean, dry, grade and bag grain. This helps smallholder farmers improve the quality of their grain and store it more safely, which in turn allows them to access quality-driven markets beyond the farm gate. The equipment installed in Jinja is one of eight units purchased by WFP and leased to the private sector and cooperatives. The ownership of the equipment remains with WFP until the company has completed the five year lease repayment plan.

Investment to remedy challenges with grain quality

P4P is supporting the Ugandan government’s efforts to establish a national warehouse receipt system (WRS) through a consultative working group made up of key stakeholders. Under the WRS, warehouse managers – licensed by Uganda Commodity Exchange –oversee the cleaning, drying, grading, bagging and storage of agricultural produce from farmer groups, traders and processors in exchange for a fee.

The WRS initiative has faced many challenges and delays, often due to poor quality grain and limited awareness about the benefits of structured trading. However, the installation of grain processing equipment in locations such as Jinja is a major step in the right direction.

National warehouse receipt system

According to Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, who was the honourable guest at the ceremony in Jinja, “warehouse upgrades are critically important in our joint efforts with WFP to enhance the warehouse receipt system in Uganda.” She added that “the warehouse receipt system is a means to integrate small-scale farmer groups and traders into the East African Community market.”

To support the warehouse receipt system, WFP invested US$2.4 million to procure the eight units of grain processing equipment to be leased to regional warehouses. In addition to the equipment commissioned in Jinja in November,  the other units are operating in the towns of Kasese, Gulu, Masindi, Lira, Kapchorwa and Soroti, assisting farmers and traders to process maize, rice, sorghum, beans and other agricultural produce.

Enhancing infrastructure - a priority in Uganda

“WFP’s vision is that Uganda is increasingly able to access regional markets with quality grain, and that small-scale farmer groups in particular are able to get better prices for their surpluses,” said Alice Martin-Daihirou, WFP country director and representative in Uganda.

Agriculture and market support are among WFP's priorities in Uganda, where it assists individuals to increase their incomes in order to become food secure. Through the P4P initiative, farmers like Ivan Allan Aisu have raised yields and ensured the quality of their crops, thanks to training in post-harvest management and farming as a business.

“I used to harvest 8-9 bags of maize a year. Now I make between 30 and 34 from the same land,” Ivan says. “Plus, I am able to successfully store up to 2,600 kg in a crib I have built from the P4P training.”  He has learned that a properly constructed crib prevents or reduces insect and rodent damage to his crop.

Aligning P4P with government and donor strategies

WFP’s collaboration with the government, partners and donors has been essential in efforts to increase crop quality and strengthen farmers’ access to markets. Together with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, WFP has signed a joint agreement to support agriculture and the expansion of market access in Uganda. The agreement is aligned with the National Development Plan and the objectives of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Compact (CAADP).

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Zerubabel Nyira who also attended the commissioning ceremony said that the warehouse upgrades complement his ministry’s Development Strategy and Investment Plan.

Other P4P partners in Uganda include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who provided for the technical and administrative costs.