Agricultural research and development can be more than ever before when linked to agribusiness. Rwebitaba ZARDI and individuals promoting agricultural research and development have now seen that going agribusiness is a strategic intervention to accelerate the process of resource mobilization, sustainability and increased internal rates of returns to investment.
Agribusiness in agricultural research and development is a guiding principle to realize the value for money to enhance rural livelihoods by increasing productivity and profitability in a sustainable manner.
Social economically, it is important to stress that agribusiness has captured the attention of the development world and it isnow becoming a crosscutting issue simply because of its extra ordinary relevance to enable the rural farmers improve their economic situation especially those in the informal sector who in the absence of formal sector are difficult to reach through other development instruments.
In relation to the above, it’s within this informal sector that up to 70% of the population who are live in rural areas. It’s the people in these areas whose lives are hardly touched by the development programs, yet the success of rural farmers is also vital to urban development and economic transformation as it’s impossible to cope with the continuous flow of people from rural to urban. Rural areas have to produce food and cash crops for export. This requires adapting both traditional ways of life and hence the need for agribusiness and large scale commercial agriculture to meet new situations.
Furthermore, the following group categories justify the need for agribusiness;
- The institution and the beneficiaries of research findings seem to agree on the argent need to promote farming as a business
- Development agencies see going agribusiness as an enormous employment potential.
- Politicians see it as a key strategy to prevent rural unrest.
- Farmers see agribusiness as an instrument for improving farm earnings
- Women see it as an employment possibility near their homes which provides autonomy, independence and a reduced need for social support.
- To all the above group categories, however, going agribusiness stands as a vehicle to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities and to sustain a healthy economy and environment.
Agriculture is still a key sector of Uganda’s economy and to this end; the government has undertaken economic transformation where number of policies such as privatization, liberalization and diversification have been introduced.
These policies in turn have resulted into remarkable changes in the agricultural sector and agri-business systems of the country comprising of three sub sectors; farm input, farm production, farm output (processing and marketing).
Private individuals have been allowed into the export sector. The agricultural export base has also been widened to include “non-traditional agricultural exports” such as maize, beans, horticultural products, live animals and animal products.
The economic transformation therefore, has introduced many challenges to all practitioners engaged in agribusiness sector in all aspects of production and marketing. These challenges have necessitated a shift with emphasis of integrating business aspects of agriculture andresearch.
Agribusiness is therefore has been integrated with research to equip practitioners in agriculture with much needed knowledge and skills to respond to the challenges of modernizing and transforming agriculture and the economy as a whole.
Agribusiness focuses on the following critical areas;
- Building a management capacity with a practical orientation to link the agricultural sector and the business world under the broad perspective of commercialization of agriculture.
- Practical skills in business management, strategic planningand human resource management.
- Entrepreneur skills in agriculture and resource mobilization.
The Agriculture sector in Uganda is currently experiencing a shift away from substance stallholder farming to a commercially oriented system.
The success of the commercialized sector largely depends on the adaptation of sustainable agribusiness projects and or enterprises by the farmers and business communities.
An Agribusiness mind is ideal before any implementation of an agricultural project is done, because it is crucial to analyze the project basing on the key variables of Net present value, internal rates of Returns, payback period and sensitivity analysis to see whether the project is viable.
Therefore, in order to go agribusiness, management should be equipped with the “decision tools” for better profitable and sustainable business enterprise choice.
Like any other research institute, Rwebitaba ZARDI faces a problem of funds to meet administrative, research and development needs. Funding from Government and development partners is inadequate and at times there is a delay in its release. It is therefore important to initiate income generating projects to supplement government and donor support.
Rwebitaba ZARDI has five initial agribusiness income generating project units which include but not limited to; crops, livestock & animals, woodlot & seedlings, Trainings (workshops & use of institute facilities) and Machines (Maize huller, feed mill and grinding mill).
In summary the above units includes;
- Crops:- Perennials (Tea, Bananas & Coffee) Root crops (Cassava, yams, Irish & sweet potatoes) , Cereals (maize, Rice and millet) Legumes (Groundnuts, Beans, Soybeans, Cowpeas & pigeon peas) fruits (Passion fruits, mangoes, avocado, pineapples, melons, paw paws and apples citrus (oranges, mardarine, lemon, Tangerine),. and vegetables( egg plants cabbages, cauliflowers, sukuma week, Doodo, Nakati, spinach, green & sweet pepper garlic, onions, Pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots)
- Livestock: - goats, pigs and poultry, Apiculture and aquaculture.
- Woodlot: - Trees and seeds and seedlings.
- Machines:-Maize huller, feed mill, grinding mill, tractor and other implements.
- Trainings, consultancy and facilitations: - workshops, short courses, meetings, functions, accommodation and catering services.
Below is a brief description of the agribusiness income generating components for each project:
- Tea: Green leaf and seedlings. The modalities for increasing green leaf include; Timely pruning, fertilizer application, timely harvesting, proper harvesting, adequate supervision during plucking and weighing to ensure quantity and quality. A tea nursery should establish and managed properly to ensure continuous supply of seedlings. Leaf sales should be rotated among different factories.
- Banana: Planting materials (suckers) and matooke (food)
- Cassava: Planting material (cuttings), cassava flour and animal feeds
- Irish potatoes: Potatoes for seed and food
- Maize: Feeds (maize bran), maize flour and silage. At least 10 acres is planted per season.
- Fruits (Passion fruits, mangoes, avocado, pineapples, melons, paw paws and apples citrus (oranges, mardarine, lemon, Tangerine).
- Vegetables( egg plants cabbages, cauliflowers, sukumaweek,Doodo, Nakati, spinach, green & sweet pepper garlic, onions, Pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots)
- Cattle: Dairy products, breeding stock and breeding services (AI)
- Goats: Breed stock, Goats for meat (slaughter)
- Piggery: Breeding stock, fattening/finishing pigs
- Poultry: Eggs, off layers, broilers and breeding stock (local and exotic).
- Agriculture: honey, wax and other products.
- Aquaculture: fish
- Pasture seeds.
- Trees for poles and timber: Eucalyptus (clonal and ordinary), gravellier, podo, pine, Cypress.
- Tree nursery: tree Seeds and seedlings.
- Grinding mill: The major product will be maize, cassava and millet flour. The mill will utilize maize grown on station and extra bought from other sources eg Rwimi prison farm. The product will be properly packed and labeled will the ZARDI logo for sale.
- Feed mill: Some crops that make components of the feeds such as sunflower, yellow cassava, yellow maize may be grown on station. Consultations are being made on the availability and operation of a maize cob crushing machine.
5. Trainings, consultancy facilitations and use of institute facilities: -
- Short courses
- Institute farm visits and tours by schools, farmers and institutions.
- On farm adaptive research.
- Meetings, functions, accommodation and catering services:
Marketing: Sales offices/ shops for agricultural products will be established in Kyembogo, Fort Portal town and Kampala
- The Business plan is implemented by the Agribusiness Manager.
- Each enterprise project unit has a head is answerable to the Agribusiness manager.
- These different heads meet once in a month to present their monthly plans.
- Each agricultural enterprise is given targets per unit time/season and it’s required to produce profitably.
- Finance management is centralized and the institute’s accountant who take the responsibility of developing / introducing an accounting system / software specifically for RWEZARDI Agribusiness to track incomes and expenses for each enterprise both horizontally and vertically.