Agribusiness initiative injects Shs66bn into climate-smart farming

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Agribusiness initiative injects Shs66bn into climate-smart farming
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Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) has unveiled two groundbreaking programmes to help over 200,000 Ugandan farmers directly benefit from its resilience and smart agricultural programmes.

The launch is part of aBi’s five-year business plan to drive green, inclusive economic transformation and combat the climate crisis.

The Green Agrifood System Programme (GRASP) under aBi Development Ltd and Accelerating Adoption of Green and Inclusive Finance (AAGIF) under aBi Finance Ltd were the two programmes launched at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Thursday.

Moses Nyabila, the Chief Executive of aBi Development Ltd, said the five-year programme will invest Ushs55.8 billion to support farmers and agribusinesses in building capacity to adapt to climate change and continue productive activities.

He noted that over the strategic period from 2019 to 2023, aBi extended support to more than 50 private sector entities, reaching an impressive 790,000 farmers, and resulting in 12,088 jobs and a staggering net income exceeding Shs138 billion.

“The support for GRASP finds its roots in its direct relevance to “The World We Share,” addressing the climate crisis by empowering farmers to adapt,” Nyabila said.

"It solidifies aBi’s role as a robust partner for private-sector agricultural business development, bridging the gap between producers and markets.

"Furthermore, it seamlessly aligns with the Uganda Country Strategic Framework 2023-2027, focusing on promoting inclusive green economic transformation, a shared goal with the Government of Uganda and the European Union."

Mona Muguma-Ssebuliba, chief executive of aBi Finance Ltd, added that despite aBiF’s efforts to empower the agricultural value chain in Uganda through loans, guarantees and business development services in the last 15 years, the funding gap in the agricultural ecosystem remains significantly high with a paltry 10 percent of Ugandan firms accessing loans.

“This new programme (Accelerating Adoption of Green and Inclusive Finance) will add a Ushs11billion investment to empower the often-overlooked segments of society: youth, women, and refugees, enabling them to build thriving agribusinesses and improve their livelihoods," Ssebuliba said.

"aBi Finance’s interventions have created over 300,000 jobs, generated an additional income of $154m for beneficiaries, impacted 2.2m farmers (70 percent of whom are women), and contributed US$5m in value through green loans,” he added.

While appreciating the value of Public-Private Partnerships in strengthening the agricultural value chain in Uganda, Felix Okoboi, the Board Chairperson of aBi Development and Finance, appreciated the Government of Uganda, the European Union and the Royal Danish Embassy for the unwavering support and commitment to supporting a private sector-driven Ugandan agriculture which is green and inclusive.

“During UPSIDE, aBi Finance transitioned from a company limited by guarantee to a company limited by shares and, in 2022, onboarded two shareholders, the Investment Fund for Developing Countries and the European Union, alongside the Royal Danish Embassy to facilitate an increase in access of serviceable green financing to small- holder farmers and agribusinesses,” he said.

“I am very proud and happy that the EU and Denmark has chosen to show their confidence in aBi’s ability to deliver on climate and agriculture. This long-term engagement is what Uganda needs to meet the climate challenge and boost the agricultural sector,” he added.

The guest of honour at the launch, Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), represented at the launch by Dr Henry Nakalaet Opolot, the commissioner extension and skills management services, reiterated that aBi is directly supporting the government’s priorities and policies and aligned with the country’s strategic direction as guided by Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan III.

Dr. Opolot observed that while the agricultural sector is a crucial driver of Uganda’s transformation and a solution to youth unemployment, it will not yield the expected results without heavy investment in climate resilience and adaptation strategies for small and large-scale farmers.

The launch of the two new programmes was a precursor to the closeout of yet another successful project: the Uganda Programme for Sustainable and Inclusive Development of the Economy (UPSIDE) programme that started in 2019, supporting over 200,000 farmers, 50% of whom are women achieve resilience to climate change through expanded and inclusive green agri-food systems.

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