UBL to expand its Farm for Success program to benefit 50,000 farmers countrywide

Business

Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), has announced that it will expand its Farm for Success, previously Local Raw Material, program from the current 35,000 farmers to 50,000 farmers.

The development will happen as the company seeks to sustainably source 100% of agriculture materials used in producing its various brands from Uganda, specifically from farmers of Barley, Sorghum, and corn by 2030.

The development was announced on Thursday  during the annual farmers symposium that Uganda Breweries created as a platform to create mutual understanding, collaboration, policy alignment, problem-solving, and ultimately, fostering economic growth and development among the various stakeholders in the agriculture value chain.

Speaking at the symposium  that ran under the theme “Innovations in agro technology, seed and other agro input”,   Andrew Kilonzo, the Managing Director of UBL stressed that as part of the company’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in their processes, they will be looking to onboard more women and people with disabilities as part of this program, adding that the goal will be to source over 60% of the agricultural produce from women farmers as well as people with disabilities.

“We do this, not just to meet a quarter, but part of sourcing sustainably means that people who have not been a part of this value chain are brought to the table, and are supported in the best farming practices not only so that they can supply us the grain that we need, but that they can earn a livelihood, be self-sufficient and hopefully, pay it forward to the other previously marginalized communities,” Kilonzo said.

“ For that reason, we shall have targeted capacity training sessions with women groups across the country as part of onboarding for this process.”

The Local Raw Material program started in 1987 with Barley farming but the program kicked off in earnest in 2003 when government  introduced excise concessions for beer produced from locally resourced raw materials to facilitate the choice and use of local raw materials in the alcohol production process.

UBL was then able to make several investments to accommodate increased local raw materials, for

example, a $21.3 million Mash Filter investment in 2011.

That same year, payments to farmers peaked at over 14 billion, jumped to 26 billion in 2017, and currently stands at over shs52 billion as of 2022.

Under Uganda Breweries’ Society 2030 program, the goal is to provide 100% of local sourcing communities with agricultural skills and resources, building economic and environmental resilience and supporting 150,000 smallholder farmers

The UBL Managing Director said on Thursday that the key challenges facing farmers include poor agricultural practices, low technological adoption, insecurity over land ownership, poor access to extension services, low-quality inputs, and unpredictable weather patterns and also lack of credit to farmers because of the high-risk commercial banks append to the usually unpredictable agriculture output.

He said UBL has stepped in to address some of the challenges.

“For instance, we have partnered  with NARO  to come up with drought-resistant seed species to address the quality issue, we provide ready market to farmers and through trainings we have encouraged technological uptake in order for farmers to be able to predict weather patterns among others,” Kilonzo said.

“We are proud of the fact that today, we purchase 95% of agriculture products we use in production from Ugandan farmers but we are relentless in seeing this number settle at 100% so that when we boldly say we are Uganda Breweries, it is because we are sourced, produced and packaged 100% in Uganda.”

The State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Fred Bwino Kyakulaga said that programs like UBL’s Farm for Success are in line with several government objectives as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) III in the areas of agro industrialization, import substitution, promotion of local manufacturing as well as the mandate of government to improve policy and infrastructure that strengthens the private sector to create jobs for inclusive growth, employment, and sustainable wealth creation.

“My ministry looks forward to supporting Uganda Breweries Limited as well as other willing companies in such ventures, and I know Ugandan farmers have the capacity to more than fulfill the 100% local sourcing intention,” Kyakulaga said.

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