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Seed Companies to get $6.6M agriculture boost

The Agricultural Industry is set to get a $6.6 million boost from the legume seeds pilot project, following an investment by Donor organizations under their umbrella body AgResults.

The project is aimed at incentivizing and rewarding high impact agriculture innovations that benefit small holder farmers through creating access to quality legume seeds. The participating seed companies will also get $2.36 million Shillings Prize.

Addressing the press at Serena Hotel recently, Rodrigo Ortiz, AgResults secretariat lead, Deloitte consulting, said the pilot legume seeds project was introduced in Uganda because the seed industry is challenged by the issue of cash flow.

L-R Rodrigo Ortiz Delloitte Consulting, Boniface Mugisa and Roy Magoba of Lutheran World Relief(LWR) at a cocktail for stakeholders in the AgResults Uganda Legume Seeds Pilot Project

L-R Rodrigo Ortiz Delloitte Consulting, Boniface Mugisa and Roy Magoba of Lutheran World Relief(LWR) at a cocktail for stakeholders in the AgResults Uganda Legume Seeds Pilot Project

“Legumes aren’t as profitable as maize and yet they can have a very significant role in nutrition and food security by helping to diversify the diet in Uganda through these high protein crops,” he said.

Speaking about the project, Triston Armstrong, AgResults steering committee chair and representative of donors said the Initiative is a good opportunity for donors to support a project that is bringing together product sectors in countries like Uganda and across the world to come up with innovative ways of solving problems in agriculture to benefit small holder farmers.

“The program is not something donors have tried in the past. We are interested not because the program has the ability to assist so many poor or small holder farmers in Uganda and the region in revolutionalising the seed industry here, but also it tests whether or not these kinds of interventions might be the better way to deliver assistance in the future,” he said. “We are essentially incentivizing the private sector actors to respond to an incentive to produce a result and in so doing we are hoping we generate some self-sustaining private sector behavior and markets that will persist beyond the life of the program.” Armstrong said.

The pilot project will use the financial Pull Mechanism. This differs from traditional push mechanisms where donors come in and provide up front funding for a set of deliverables.

According to Boniface Mugisa, the Ag Results Uganda legume seeds pilot Manager- Lutheran World Relief, the traditional way of financing projects is that money is advanced then the recipient uses that money to finance inputs to generate expected outputs.

“However with the Pull mechanism, it is about rewarding the seed companies or the participants for achieving results using their own efforts, but we reward you at the end,” he said. Mugisa further divulged that 2,100 tonnes of certified seeds will be supplied in the first year. “We expect that if all that improved seed is planted, yields will increase. The seed has about 40% yield advantage and can generate high yields by about 40%. We are talking about $30 million as a result of the activities of this project,” he said. “When we walk away there will still be a highly functional seed system operating in the country and will continue to provide shared value for everyone in the seed chain in the future,” Armstrong said.

The multi-million donor organizations at the forefront of the project are United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Global Affairs Canada (GAC/AMC), the Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, the World Bank, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Abt Associates and Lutheran World Relief (LWR).

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