Shs17 billion for agricultural value addition in north

By Christine Kasemiire

Kampala. Thirty one projects within northern Uganda have been selected to benefit from the €4m (Shs17.7b) fund that seeks to encourage value addition in agriculture.
Support To Agricultural Revitalisation and Transformation (Start) is a United Nations Capital Development Fund, Private sector Foundation Uganda and Uganda Development Fund initiative that seeks to empower people in the agricultural value chain in the northern Uganda.
Ms Patricia Ojangole, voted as the chairperson of the project’s management board at the weekend said Start will fund, sensitise and train agriculturalists in northern Uganda.

“Start will support development and financing of capital intensive projects promoted by small and medium enterprises that add value in storage, processing of agricultural produce,” she said.
A total of 342 proposals were received since May when the project called for proposals and of these, 31 valued at Shs16b have been screened and will benefit from advisory services and funding.
The funding, she said, will be in form of seed capital through loans with an interest rate of between 10 per cent and 12 per cent.
The rate is below commercial bank charges which stand at an average of 20 per cent per annum.

The projects cut across Acholi, Lango, West Nile, Teso and Karamoja with focus in cassava, groundnuts, livestock, millet and maize, among others.
The project comes at a time when Uganda is highly productive in agriculture, but has failed to leverage on value addition to increase the country’s earnings.
According to World Bank, Uganda in 2011 exported value added goods worth $3b.
Mr Gideon Bagawa, the PSFU executive director, said the projects will be given business advisory and trainings focusing on sustainability.

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