SAA-Uganda's groundbreaking agricultural hubs launch in Karamoja

His Excellency Fukazawa Hidemoto, Ambassador of Japan, cutting the ribbon at the inauguration of the Bala Women and Youth Cooperative
His Excellency Fukazawa Hidemoto, Ambassador of Japan, cutting the ribbon at the inauguration of the Bala Women and Youth Cooperative

The Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) -Uganda has launched two innovative agricultural hubs: the Bala Women and Youth Cooperative in Kole district and the Apeitolim Farmers Association in Napak district. These hubs, part of the project "Revitalization and Digitalization of Multipurpose Agricultural Cooperatives in Uganda," funded by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aim to address rural poverty and revolutionize farming as a thriving business. 

In Kole district, the inauguration was graced by His Excellency Fukazawa Hidemoto, Ambassador of Japan, who handed over the facilities to the Bala Women and Youth Farmers’ Cooperative Society. The Napak district event saw Hon Bwino Kyakulaga Fred, State Minister of Agriculture, commissioning the facilities for the Apeitolim Farmers Association. These two significant events attracted over 1000 farmers and key stakeholders from various sectors, including local government, international agencies, and agricultural businesses. 

The Bala Women and Youth Cooperative's Inauguration in Kole district
The Apeitolim Farmers Association's Inauguration in Napak district

His Excellency Fukazawa Hidemoto, in his address, expressed his delight at the successful completion of the project, which began in March 2023. He stressed the transformative potential of the centers, urging farmers to actively use these facilities to improve their livelihoods. These centers, equipped with grain bulking stores, maize mills, input shops, offices, water harvesting tanks, latrines, and solar-powered irrigation systems, are designed to catalyze all-year-round agricultural production. 

The project has been praised for its comprehensive approach to agricultural development. Mr. Lodungokol John from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) commended SAA for not only providing valuable training to numerous farmer groups but also for introducing cutting-edge technologies. The facilities for value addition, maize processing, and the irrigation system reflect a holistic approach that is aligned with Uganda's agro-industrialization agenda in NDPIII. 

Mr. Joseph Paschal Bbemba, SAA Deputy Country Director, highlighted the significant role of these interventions in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture. He noted the project's aim to enable year-round production, thus improving farmers' income, enhancing nutrition, and ensuring food security. He expressed optimism about the One-Stop Centre Module, envisioning it as a dynamic hub for farmers to access various services, from savings and inputs to training and collective bulking. 

Ms. Aida Abia, chairperson of the Bala Women and Youth Farmers’ Cooperative Society, reflected on their journey, noting initial skepticism that transformed into success, attracting interest from the community and beyond. She emphasized the importance of training for both community members and students from various educational institutions. 

Ande Okiror, SAA Program Coordinator, spoke about SAA’s approach, emphasizing 'grow to sell, not grow and sell', which involves equipping farmers with market-oriented strategies. He urged the community to embrace and own the project, envisioning its impact on education, housing, nutrition, and the establishment of new enterprises like poultry and piggery. 

These agricultural hubs are set to elevate the profitability of farming in Karamoja, contributing to the reduction of rural poverty and enhancing food security. The commitment of SAA and its partners to empowering local communities through sustainable agricultural practices stands as a testament to the potential for a brighter, more prosperous future in the region. 

Retrieved from SAA E-Newsletter, issued in December 2023 with Focus on 2023 Highlights

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