Business Development Training Unleashes the Potential of Smallholder Farmer Cooperatives in Amuru District.
Amuru is one of districts in Northern Uganda that harbors the largest population of LRA Returnees (smallholder farmers). The Returnees were abducted at young ages and spent over 20 years in the bush. After the war, they returned home in 2015 and started to farm individually, but could not realize profits. They decided to form cooperatives and elected their leaders in March, 2023 so that they can farm together and strive to make money.
Agripoint Initiatives in partnership with Afrokai Uganda Limited unleashed their potential to know how to make money in farming, save and reinvent in agriculture. In order to achieve this, they have been trained on Business Development, Marketing, Governance and Financial Discipline
The training led by Agripoint Initiatives Limited and supported by Afrokai Uganda Limited has impacted leading Cooperatives/VSLAs in Amuru district. At least 76 Cooperatives with 346 individual smallholder farmers have been recorded to have been beneficiaries of the trainings. The target beneficiaries cultivated crops such as maize, rice, sorghum, groundnuts, soy beans, and beans that they sold to buyers in the region to meet the household needs.
Prior to the training, Afrokai Area Agents together with Cooperative’s Management mobilized the smallholder farmers to participate in the trainings during savings days, particularly Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Trainings were tailored starting with Business Development followed by Financial Discipline and remark sessions.
Each training lasted for about 4 hours in which the BDS experts gave presentations on a wide range of Business Development topics including effective business planning and decision making, enterprise selection and evaluation, budgeting, market research, pricing, marketing and selling of products, risk management, record keeping, relationships management and continuity, profit and loss statements to help smallholder farmers to prioritize their expenditures and save money.
These trainings provided critical opportunities for the Cooperatives in Amuru district to enhance their capacity in business and embrace market opportunities at Afrokai, Uganda, South Sudan, and Congo. And continuously share expertise together to address local challenges affecting agriculture in the regions. As training sessions were getting to an end, smallholder farmers in the Cooperatives shared their experiences and lessons obtained from the trainings as below.
“We had never received business development training and that hampered our capabilities to realize profit margins from farming enterprises.
Over years, we were cultivating crops such as maize, rice, sorghum, groundnuts, soy beans, and beans that we sold to buyers in the region to meet the family needs. Many times, we sold we received little money not even able to suffice the next season planting activities. As such we remained farming in small plots and producing small harvests.
The training led by Agripoint Experts is an eye opener and a beginning of the understanding that we can actually change our lives and keeping developing through farming despite the past challenges. We have been waiting for middlemen who would come to buy produce at homes in low prices, but now we have learnt that in order to get large money it is critical to look out for market for prices, quality needs, plan our enterprises, evaluate every action, maintain relationships, keep records, maximize space and use quality inputs and ably set prices for our products.
While marketing, it is good to ensure thet the product is properly handled during the postharvest period in order to add value to the product and appropriate price. Marketing in the group will help attain better prices because of associated high volumes. All this knowledge is impactful in our farming business”