International Labour Organization has awarded Ten Agriprenuer business firms with $30,000 each as a grant from the Netherlands government to boost production and value addition to cassava and Simsim Value chains in refugee settlements and host communities in West Nile region..
The Grantees, who have already been engaged in agribusiness, are expected to utilize the grant to develop various aspects that will promote enhancing value options for both cassava and sesame(sim-sim) production.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Manasseh Acidri the managing director of Geoffman Enterprises , who specialize in the production and extraction of oil from sesame said : “The grant is a boost for them to ensure that there is value addition to the Sesame in order to avoid cases of adulteration. Our customers deserve better products in order to grow the market.”
The Managing Director of Ag Ploutos Company, where the money has been channeled, Ms Adenike Anyang, said: “We need to improve production in terms of quality and quantity of the simsim and cassava that is produced in this region. These two crops have enormous benefits both in pharmaceutical and Breweries industries.”
She added: “We are here to create wealth through agriculture in Arua, Terego and Madi-Okollo. We have already identified banks that are willing to partner with us and link the farmers to more soft loans with low interest rates.”
The Grantees include Baga Commodities Limited, Yield Harvest, Equator Seeds Uganda Limited, Grain Trade Development Services Limited, New Beginning Investment Limited, Palm Business Consults and Agric Supplies Limited, Rural Society for Development Agency, Multipurpose Farm Network and Kawacom Uganda Limited.
The Grantees have been encouraged to grow the high yielding new variety of Sim-sim and Sweet cassava.
Change of mind-set
Cassava and sim-sim is a staple food in the sub-region, but most people grow them for subsistence farming.
Several organizations and government agencies are trying hard to change the mind-set of farmers to grow the crops for commercial purpose.
Ms Gloria Driwaru of Green Trade farmer group that also received the funding, said: “This grant will help us reach more farmers to change the mind-set of those still locked in subsistence farming.”
The International Labour Organization (ILO) Chief Technical Advisor, Mr. Stephen Opio, said: “When we promote the new seed varieties we shall be able to create demand-driven products in the available markets.”
Opio further Cautioned the agriprenuers against misuse of the grants, stating: “Kindly, we request you to use the grants appropriately. Mismanagement of grants risks further opportunities for other agriprenuers.”
The Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Karin Boven who was the chief guest at the awards ceremony expressed her optimism in the project execution.
“We are hopeful that these Grantees will use the grants well to promote commercial production where they can be able to earn money, improve the production that meets demand in the market and fight poverty at the household level,” she said.
Each of the 10 enterprises received $30,000.