NSSF funded company to market farmers’ produce

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged Uganda to ensure that climate change prevention and mitigation measures are at the heart of the country’s development agenda, especially in agriculture.

Antonio Querido, the FAO Country Representative in Uganda says the country is among the most vulnerable and that there is need to put adequate focus on areas that may enhance this vulnerability.

He was speaking at the 2024 Agribusiness Mkutano, under the theme “Cultivating Resilience: Agribusiness and Climate Finance as an Anchor for Sustainable Economic Growth in Uganda” in Kampala, Tuesday.

“The intersection of agribusiness in climate finance represents a critical leverage point in enhancing Uganda’s economic sustainability and resilience,”  he said.

Querido discussed the critical role of climate finance in addressing economic and sustainability challenges.

He insisted that FAO vertical funds can contribute to building resilience in the agribusiness sector, while the agency can coordinate with government bodies, financial institutions and local communities to make climate finance more accessible for smallholder farmers.

The Mkutano Company organizes regular forums on Uganda’s key economic sectors to bring together different stakeholders from the public, private, financial and civil society spheres to examine the existing needs and propose ways to influence positive changes.

Revolutionising agriculture will require empowering the smallholder farmers who account for the bigger chunk of agricultural output, yet they still use crude methods.

This move will require financial and technical empowerment, according to Mbabazi, including enabling them access affordable credit and the market, hence the need for the financial sector to take a leading role.

Alex Rumanyika, the head of strategy at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) said they have taken advantage of the need to grow their membership by investing in agriculture, where the majority of Ugandans are employed.

NSSF has registered good growth over the past 10 years, with an average of 800,000 people saving with the fund in 2024 but we but it says that this is a small percentage of the 12 million workers in Uganda.

So the Fund plans to grow this percentage to at least 50 percent or six to seven million savers in ten years.

Rumanyika says it is for this reason that they are targeting agriculture, not only by giving money directly to young and women farmers, also that they are establishing a marketing company.

“It is imperative for the NSSF to enter the Agriculture sector to offer social security coverage to more Ugandans,” he said.

The 40 billion-shilling company will help the farmers market their products and on getting paid, they will be encouraged to save with NSSF, according to Rumanyika.

The National Planning Authority (NPA) pledged continued recognition of the climate challenges urging that all agriculture and agribusiness subsector stakeholders to take climate-smart agricultural seriously.

The Chairperson for National Planning Authority Prof Pamela Mbabazi said the government committed in the Third National Development Plans (NDP3), to prioritize agricultural among other selected areas.

She added that this will go hand in hand with continued investments investing in infrastructure, technology and capacity building among other programs, aimed at modernizing agriculture.

She agreed that the challenge of climate change in Uganda is real and mitigation and prevention measures have to be enhanced in the national plans, while the country “must change the way we do things.”

On the development of the sector, Prof Mbabazi admitted that everyone knows that agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy, not much is being done to ensure its importance is also transformative.

“Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the growth of Uganda’s economy, employing 61 percent of the labour force, yet it contributes just 24 percent of Uganda’s GDP,” she said, adding to that this ratio is too low.

She called on people from all sectors and sections of the population to work together and turn around the sector.

As the agency embarks on the development of NDPIV, Mbabazi said development was central to their “overarching vision and commitment to modernize and revolutionize the agriculture sector,” ensuring productivity, resilience and sustainability.

David Bikhado Ofungi, Founder and Curator, The Mkutano Company, said the views that arise from these forums have helped influence government policy.

“Our first agribusiness Mkutano in 2022 spoke to the framework of industry through the lens of agriculture. Within the past 18 months, we’ve had more interrogation of developing industrial value chains,” Bikadho said.

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