Meet some of the Initiatives in Uganda making headway for the future of sustainable businesses in agrifood
During the learning journeys following the Accelerate Lab 2017, the ‘Accelerators’ had to interface with challenges, opportunities and successes alike by going on learning journeys through west and southwestern Uganda as well as Kampala to further understand the gaps as well as opportunities surrounding emerging initiatives in agrifood. Several sustainable agribusinesses and social enterprises would be visited and a lot of insights would be generated.
Some of the enterprises visited and engaged during the earning journeys;
Rural Community in Development (RUCID)
Located near the town of Mityana, the RUCID organic agriculture training college provides practical hands on skills to the students from across East Africa. Their mode is that of training youth that are able to solve challenges along the agri-food value chain and become job creators rather than job seekers. RUCID’s firm grip on ecological practices is enviable and the practices are applied on their sizable organic farm. Their sustainability philosophy is of a farm that is ‘ecological, economical and beautiful’
Bukonzo Organic Coffee Cooperative Union (BOCU):
Producing premium Arabica coffee on the ranges of Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda, the Bukonzo coffee farmers have gone agroecological to adapt to and mitigate the effects on a changing climate. But their coffee is sold as green beans with no value added to the European and American buyers. This has led to what we have termed ‘coffee flight’ where most of the coffee value is realized by the buyers in the ‘north’ leaving the toiling farmers languishing on the farms.
Aware of this, accelerate seeks to empower BOCU to develop short coffee value chains where coffee can be roasted at the cooperative, packaged and supplied to local coffee houses as well as hotels and safari lodges in the tourist corridor. Plus, we have a commitment and already working to support ecological restoration and resilience initiatives through knowledge dissemination, practical training and tree planting on the ranges.
Change a Life Bwindi
Founded in 2015 by Tina, a young lady, Change a Life Bwindi is a social community enterprise working with women and children in the Ruhija community around the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which is one of the homes of the majestic Mountain Gorillas.
The initiative has looked within for the solutions to the many challenges and through skills development; women are able to produce beautiful craft products, which they sell to the many tourists that come to track Gorillas.
Accelerate will henceforth be working to support Change A Life Bwindi through skills development in agroecological and sustainable enterprises including beekeeping, organic farming, community agro-ecotourism as well as product development and market linkages.
Eco-tourism on Lake Bunyonyi
Boasting as the second deepest lake in Africa, Bunyonyi doubles as a magical archipelago comprised of 29 islands guarded by the terraced hills in and overlooking the Virunga Mountains further southwest.
Because of this incredible beauty, a lot of tourism activities and businesses take place around and on the lake including lodging, restaurants and bars, swimming, boat rides, birding, among others.
The potential for sustainable eco tourism however is enormous. This would start with restoring the ecosystems of the degraded hills that would attract more tourists for guided nature walks and birding along the lake, develop product chains and souvenirs to tap into the tourist market, and equipping the youth around the lake with travel and hospitality management skills, all of which Accelerate is exploring the avenues for collaborative support.
Kamatarisi Farm – Agrotoursim on an Ankole Long-horned Cattle Ranch
Sustainable agribusinesses must harness the potential of indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage. As agricultural intensification continues to champion exotic breeds and hybrid practices, the famous and majestic Ankole long-horned are every resilient to climate shocks and to pests and diseases but are being threatened and getting wiped by the introduction of exotic breeds. Yet they embody the mantle as custodians of culture and heritage but also of a sustainable livestock production system.
Visiting Kamatarisi Ranch in Biharwe, Mbarara, we were awed by these majestic cattle but also challenged by enormous the sociocultural and business opportunities surrounding the Ankole long-horned cattle. The ranch already makes money from tourism as a cultural tourist site showcasing on top of its core business – beef.
The potential of agroecotourism is enormous and Accelerate will be laying strategies for harnessing this enormous potential. There are many other farms not just livestock farms that can profit from agroecotourism and Accelerate will championing similar initiatives focusing on young people by equipping them with knowledge and skills of ecological design, hospitality management, market linkages and communication.
Kahwa2Go – Restaurant & Café
Kahwa2Go is a contemporary startup coffee themed restaurant run by two young innovators and agripreneurs in Kampala. Located strategically at the Innovation Village block, the café blends perfectly in the community of young and serial innovators and serves as another success story of what young people can do if they are passionate and fully committed to an enterprise.
The Accelerators indeed frequented the café multiple times, not only to learn from the amazing story of these young agripreneurs, but also to enjoy the freshly made food and aromatic coffee and herbal teas.
The proprietors are now looking into backward linkages, to organize and train several young urban residents to practice urban farming, grow some of their foods especially vegetables in vertical gardens but also potentially earn good revenues from the sale of their produce to several restaurants in Kampala including Kahwa2Go.
Sustainable urban food production systems will be of so much interest to Accelerate going forward as Africa will continue to experience an exponential growth in urbanization. For the many urban poor youth, urban agribusinesses including production with technics like vertical gardening but also engaging in innovative value chain activities will be an inevitable step to tackle massive unemployment.
The Innovation Village Kampala
The ‘Village’ as its commonly known is a breeding ground for innovators and entrepreneurs spanning from key sectors of development importance including Agribusiness, Green Enterprises, Fin-Tech, Edu-Tech among others. Again the Innovation Village is a breeding ground for mentors whose successful startup stories and seasoned entrepreneurs inspire young and emerging entrepreneurs. Accelerate is already leveraging this platform and human expertise and particularly during Accelerate2017, several seasoned innovators were engaged during the workshop and hackathon to share their success stories and as mentors respectively. Accelerate will continue to build collaborations with spaces and platforms like the ‘Village’ to serve as incubation centers for our agripreneurship innovators and students to tap into tools, experts and resources for scaling.