Category Archives: Agriculture

CURAD, Where your Agribusiness Value Addition dream is realised


Agriculture is steadily gaining prominence as a key investment sector in Uganda. Initially left for the despised peasantry in the rural areas, the fast growing urbanisation trend is demanding that more food be availed in the right form at the right time and with the right quality.

This has led to a growth in the interest expressed in value addition. For the uninitiated, Value Addition simply implies the transformation of a product from its original state to a more valuable state. Take the example of Milk being transformed to Cheese, Irish Potatoes transformed into Crisps, Maize transformed into flour among others.

With the increasing urbanisation, it implies a growing non agricultural workforce that still relies on feeding off agricultural produce. Enterprising individuals have now taken advantage of the supply gap to package food products appropriately for this elite market.

In 2009 when I first ventured into this value addition space with my wife, we faced a lot of hurdles and they were largely rotating around the processing of the produce. Not only was it lack of appropriate knowledge but also the affordability of the machinery required.

This took us on a longer than necessary learning curve to achieve our dream. While there existed a Government supported incubation facility, it just did not suit us due to the many hurdles it erected that simply pushed away the small producers like us.

We however soldiered on through a brutal learning and investment process to eventually get to our current stable operations.

However, recently I picked interest in establishing what an organisation whose name had been on my radar for a long time was all about. That organisation is CURAD. The Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Ltd (CURAD) that I learnt is an innovative autonomous agribusiness incubator established by Makerere University, National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

A visit to the CURAD facility at Namanve Industrial area was very revelational. I stumbled across a facility that I can authoritatively state that it is a facility that offloads an agribusiness of the initial equipment and technical hurdles associated with processing and enables a business to focus on acquisition of raw material as well as market access and trade.

Food processing to acceptable standards is not a walk into the park for any business. It involves lots of investment in machinery, human labour and compliance requirements. However, if that headache is removed from an entrepreneur and they are left to focus on raw material acquisition and market access, there is likely to be a lot of output registered by any Small and Medium business enterprise.

Dealing with them is as simple as delivering your raw material, say in this case irish potatoes. They get into the facility, are cleaned (thoroughly), sliced by machines, taken through a series of machine powered steps ending up with the ready to pack crisps that eventually go through an automated packing machine. Isn’t this cool?

They have a vast array of machinery from Slicers, cleaners, drier, cold storage, vacuum sealers, packaging among many others. These guys are the real deal.

All one needs to do is register with the facility and then pay a fee based on the kind of work you expect them to do for you on a per consignment basis.


Some of the machinery at the facility is as seen in the slideshow below.

With such a facility in existence, it gives one no reason not to pursue their Agribusiness dream especially one that entails Value Addition. If you have been intrigued by this information, you can always check out CURAD Online for further details.

A visit to their facility is one you will never live to regret.

James Wire
Agribusiness & Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames

Time for Smallholder Farmer Empowerment


For ages, the smallholder farmer has been regarded as a small earner. The urban dwellers have always been contented partaking of cheap food supplies while reserving their serious money for ostentatious activities like drinking alcohol, consuming imported supplies and gyrating in discotheques.

Food was taken for granted and the plight of the peasant farmers was only given lip service. Many theorised on how they could be able to earn more and most proposals ended on paper.

The past three years have heralded a new dawn for the smallholder farmers in Uganda. Food prices have increased steadily and caused an outcry among the consumers. This has resulted into a high food inflation.

Food Inflation is in simple terms defined as an increase in the price of food.
Early this year (2022), you could buy A Kilogram of Posho at UGX 1500/=, eight months down the road, that same Kilogram costs UGX 3500/=.
You could buy a Kilogram of Beans at UGX 2000/=, eight months down the road, that same Kilogram costs UGX 4500/=.
Rice on average cost UGX 2,500/= a Kilogram then and today one can hardly get that Kilogram at less than UGX 4,000/=.
All this points to food inflation. The graph below shows the trends of food inflation in Uganda over the past four years and it is clear that the past two years have depicted a very sharp rise.

The consumer is definitely experiencing alot of pain in the process however, what is happening to the farmer? For once the farmer has an opportunity to enjoy decent returns from their food crops. The farm gate price of a number of food crops is equivalent to the urban retail price of the same produce a year ago. This implies that there is more money to be earned by the farmers hence having a positive impact on their livelihoods.
I have grown rice for over three decades but two months back, I registered the highest farm gate price for my produce when a Kilogram was bought at UGX 3600, a price point I used to reach after transporting it over 250Km to the capital city Kampala. What amused me most was the broken rice which also was bought at UGX 2,700, a price much higher than the one of the previous season when rice was averaging UGX 1,400 a Kilo.

The saying, One man’s meat is another man’s poison comes into play here. The poison to the consumers are the high prices while the meat to the farmers is the increasing prices. Could this be signalling a new era that is going to lead to a higher income class of smallholder farmers?

I respond in the affirmative. I cannot deny my happiness seeing the food inflation in place. Year in, year out, I see what the farmers go through and being one too, I have always prayed for the times to change so they start getting adequate reward for their toil. The writing is on the wall, with the ever increasing rural – urban migration, the need to supply food is growing. The opening up of global markets and improving value addition of our food crops is also positioning this country to be a key regional and global supplier of foods. This therefore indirectly extends the demand for the farmers’ produce beyond the national boundaries to markets that can pay even more.

Then the argument comes in, who actually makes the killing when prices rise? Is it the farmers or the middlemen? For every increment in consumer price, a conservative estimate indicates that not more than 30% goes directly to the producer. The rest is swallowed up by the supply chain.

I believe, at this point in time, effort should be put in ensuring the following among smallholder farmers;

  • The formation of farmer groups (product specific if possible)
  • Training on producing with the consumer in mind
  • Financial literacy
  • Facilitation of market access
  • Value addition

By tackling all or some of these, the incomes of these farmers are likely to extend beyond the current growth. I do foresee the farmer progressively earning more and have improved livelihoods as we head into the future and this is the time for anyone that has ever had interest in farming to join and partake of what is coming.

Farming is finally going to make alot of sense. What are you waiting for?

James Wire
Agribusiness & Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames