Uganda BDS survey validation workshop
One of AMEA’s focus areas for 2022 is understanding how to design and scale effective Business Development Services (BDS) for Farmer Organisations. Under this mandate, our Uganda Local Network, together with the Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF) hosted a workshop on 27 April to validate a recent survey on BDS with key industry stakeholders.
The overall objective of this workshop was to bring together those who work with farmer organisations in Uganda to provide input into a draft report on BDS, critique and validate the report findings and discuss the way forward. Key discussions included prior efforts to establish a professional body of trainers and coaches for Farmer Organisations and the challenges facing BDS for Farmer Organisations.
The workshop’s participants included the stakeholders from civil society organisations, government institutions, academia, BDS providers; local government staff as well as farmer organisations themselves. Other targeted participants included off-takers and the donor community.
In summary, all the workshop participants agreed that establishing a professional body for Farmer Organisations BDS providers will harmonise service delivery and also streamline the BDS landscape in Uganda. They all pledged to support MAAIF and MTIC in this effort.
Here’s what some of the event’s speakers had to say on BDS provision in Uganda:
Consolata Acayo, Assistant Commissioner Information, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services (MAAIF) challenged participants to better understand farmers and Farmer Organisations in order to achieve sustainable service delivery. Training, coaching and mentorship are key to enabling Farmer Organisations to compete in markets. This is an opportune time to discuss harmonising BDS provision as the Agricultural Extension Services Bill is currently undergoing review before it is delivered to parliament. This bill aims to profile, register and monitor BDS providers to ensure quality services for farmers and their organisations.
Harrison Kaziro, Regional Network Facilitator (AMEA) outlined AMEA’s ongoing work in Uganda which includes supporting MAAIF to develop a guideline for professional FOs and supporting the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) to develop a Rapid Farmer Organization assessment tool and National Cooperative Database. Additionally, AMEA is refining its work on access to finance for Farmer Organisations and streamlining BDS provision through the AMEA Toolbox Working Group. These activities aim to foster systemic change in the way Farmer Organisations are supported in Uganda, translating into better service delivery for members and a living wage for all farmers, in the long run.
AMEA is also supporting MTIC on a pilot to develop a rapid assessment tool for Farmer Organisations while building the capacity of MTIC staff in assessing cooperative capacity and developing a National Cooperative Database (to be launched later in the year). The MTIC pilot is co-funded by Rikolto, SCOPEinsight, NAAC and Agriterra.
Pamela Komugisha, Representative for Cooperatives Societies Registrar emphasised that MTIC is in support of this initiative to streamline BDS and will work with MAAIF to harmonise upcoming legislation on cooperative development. She also informed participants that the discussion has come at the right time since development of new regulations to operationalise the amended Cooperative Societies Act are still in progress.