Tag Archives: agribusiness

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

Rice saga shows the BUBU lip service

Nationalism is one thing that is hard to maintain in Uganda. I love everything about Uganda’s resource endowment but the various efforts being put into stunting our potential to exploit these resources irks me so much.

You might have already heard about the move by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to grant a license to Ms Gotovate Uganda Ltd to import upto 50,000 tonnes of rice tax free from Tanzania.

One wonders why the Government deems it fit to make such a move at this point in time. For those not in the know, Uganda’s rice industry has been growing in leaps and bounds thanks to initiatives aimed at promoting upland rice as well as research into new high yielding varieties.

Production is rising as various regions of the country take up rice farming. Rice is to farmers in other regions of the country what Milk is to Western Uganda. Alot of support was extended to the diary industry and it’s no surprise that today the country is a leading milk producer on the African continent. We can achieve the same with rice and improve massively on the household incomes across the board.

By choosing to import rice, it simply means that the authorities aren’t interested in seeing rice farmers get decent income from their efforts. This whole move is shrouded in mystery as reported by The Daily Monitor.

Without mincing words, this is a well crafted plot by fly by night speculators whose overall aim is to make money irrespective of the harm they bring upon the populace. They tend to collude with gluttonous officials that have made it in life through being crooks.

The promises made by the government to improve people’s incomes as well as retaining money in the economy make such moves defeatist. If these belching crude officials were to exchange roles with the rice farmers, they would perhaps appreciate the pain that we are going through now.

Honourable Amelia Kyambadde the Minister of Trade is one person that is known for occasionally doing the right thing at least but a couple of questionable decisions she has made in the past have soiled her reputation among local business people. Take a look at how she handled the Uchumi and Nakumatt supermarket closures and you’ll wonder whether her team has a genuine commitment to Buy Uganda Build Uganda.

For too long, various so called planners have always accused Ugandans of not being able to effectively harness the opportunities before them. However, how shall we be expected to get the best of the opportunities when every time our initiatives are sprouting, executive decisions deliberately cripple them?

I think it is high time we realised that there are people out there in the corridors of power that dislike seeing the local Ugandan get rich. By opening up tax free imports of rice for a few regime royals, the small holder rice farmer is being intentionally suffocated.

It is my prayer that someone prevails upon the officials responsible for this decision. Ugandans have a right to be protected economically.

James Wire

Business Consultant & Farmer

@wirejames on Twitter