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Filling the gaps in Uganda's staple food network


Nearly a quarter of all grants from USAID’s regional Market Linkages Initiative have helped expand and fortify Uganda’s staple foods distribution and handling network. Firms, farmer associations, grain traders and warehouse managers working in key crops— maize, beans, rice, sorghum, soya beans, millet, simsim and sunflower—have received cost-share funding, while more than 13,500 Ugandan farmers (5,400 of them women) have been trained in post-harvest handling: storage, cleaning, sorting, grading, drying and avoiding crop infestation. MLI also gave a grant to a Ugandan firm that produces fortified soya-based foods for World Food Program (WFP) distribution to the country’s vulnerable populations.

The assistance has helped fill a literal gap in Uganda’s staple productivity: At least 25% of East Africa’s grain is lost during post-harvest handling: falling out of bags or poorly packed trucks, half-dried and so vulnerable to mildew and insects, unsecured and stolen or eaten by rodents.

Kiisita's new 1,000 MT grain bulking center, built with cost-sharing assistance from USAID MLIKiisita's new 1,000 MT grain bulking center, built with cost-sharing assistance from USAID MLI

The Kisiita Area Cooperative Enterprise is among many Ugandan enterprises transformed by MLI’s approach and accompanying grant assistance. The organization of 30 shareholders and rural producer organizations (RPOs) partnered with MLI in December 2010 to complete its 1,000 MT main grain bulking center (GBC), and equip it with a grain dryer, weighing scales and moisture meter, and drying platforms at 10 village aggregation centers (VACs). The GBS is structured to bring back confidence in better quality produce by issuing farmers a certificate confirming quality of produce delivered, and moisture levels are checked to make sure they conform to required standards.

In villages, Kisiita ACE Ltd has produce-cleaning equipment that separates dirt from cereals and issues certificates of quality and quantity to farmers. The advantage to farmers is that they are able to keep grains in the VACs and GBC until prices are favorable for sale. Farmers can also get a loan of up to 60% of the value of their products in the VAC and/or GBC from Kisiita under their Katweyombeke Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) bank―using grain receipts as security.

“USAID MLI has supported our grain bulking system which now cuts off the middlemen... helping our farmers network with traders,” said Lamuel Byamugisha, Vice President of Kisiita ACE, which since its upgrades supplies Nile Breweries with sorghum and the WFP with  maize. “This helps farmers sell better.”

Published August 2011