Agricultural Business Initiative Development Limited (aBi), has marked 10 years of existence and unveiled a new 5-year business plan at a colourful stakeholder Forum that was held at Kampala Serena Hotel.
aBi is a multi-donor company devoted to building a competitive, profitable and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness sector in support of equitable wealth creation in Uganda.
According to Sarah Walusimbi, the Chairperson aBi, over the period 2014-18 alone, aBi Development implemented around 130 matching grant projects with a total value of an estimated USh345bn to reach over 600,000 farmers and contributed to increasing in employment, household incomes and Agribusiness.
“The thrust going forward will see aBi supporting the introduction of new Fin-Tech enabled methods to broaden and deepen financial services in rural areas to drive financial inclusion,” said Walusimbi.
She said aBi Development, that transformed from aBi Trust, through its Finance division is now in position to assist a wide range of Financial Institutions (FIs) to reach out and meet the needs of agricultural businesses ranging from additional income-generating businesses to the medium-sized industries.”
Walusimbi observed that the targeted outcome for the new strategy is to apply more innovative financing models to strengthen the agribusiness capacity of farmer organizations (FOs) considering that the former strategy of working with FOs and NGOs in order to serve the weaker and less commercially developed value chain actors was not very successful in transforming FOs into competitive players in market systems.
Explaining the transitioning of aBi, Josephine Mukumbya, the Chief Executive Officer, said as part of the 10-year journey, 2019 saw changes in aBi’s governance aimed at making it stronger, more efficient in its decision-making, and more sustainable.
“In September, aBi Trust completed its transition to a new vehicle called aBi Development Ltd, a company limited by guarantee leading to the voluntary wind up of the Trust.
“It also birthed a new Business Plan 2019/23 currently being implemented with support from our development partners and Implementing partners,” said Mukumbya.
Since inception in 2010, aBi has channelled development funding as matching grants and Business Development Services to agricultural producers and agribusinesses to enhance their management, production, productivity, value addition, income, profitability and employment.
Uganda’s State Minister for Planning David Bahati who represented Matia Kasaija the Finance Minister commended aBi and all the development partners that have supported aBi since inception and the agricultural sector in general, namely; Governments of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Germany, UK and European Union.
“Your support towards the operationalization of the existing development cooperation agreement has supported the implementation of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Uganda Vision 2040.
“In addition, by aligning your development support to the national development priorities, you are helping in transforming Uganda from peasantry to a modern and prosperous country,” said Bahati.
Bahati added, “Government is financing value chains mainly through interventions at the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant ministries, Operation Wealth Creation, NAADS and Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) housed in Bank of Uganda.”
“Under the ACF, its uptake by government and partners has steadily increased and this is reflected in the portfolio of loans disbursed amounting to UGX 331 Billion, extended to 525 projects across the country, as at March 2019.”
Bahati said there is a need to increase credit access to the sector through a multipronged approach focusing on all financial institutions but with special focus on the lower tier financial institutions, as they operate in close proximity to agricultural value chain actors most constrained by limited institutional capacity and financial resources.
During the forum, which coincided with the aBi’s 10-year anniversary, Dr Richard Pelrine, an agricultural expert and Team Leader at GIZ Agricultural Finance Project, Nigeria delivered the keynote address under the theme; Financing Agricultural Value Chains: Balancing Strong Commercial Viability with Clear Development Objectives for Agribusiness.
Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing (65%). Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.