Workshop on Farmer Aggregation Models offers some interesting lessons

Workshop on Farmer Aggregation Models offers some interesting lessons


"As an individual you can easily be broken. When you are many, you are much stronger!"

The General Secretary of the UCA started off the Workshop on Small Holder Farmer Aggregation Models, with a great visual and practical excercise: 2 participants were invited to the front and were challenged to break 1 single cattle stick in half, they were asked to do this again and again until they had many (smaller) sticks. The more sticks they had to break, the more difficult the task became. These sticks represented the farmers and how together as a group they stand much stronger when facing challenges.

This workshop follows a study, conducted by VECO East Africa, into the different type of business models used by farmer organizations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its purpose was to share the findings of the study and, even more importantly, to ask for feedback and additional input from various players in the agricultural sector.

Different key note speakers reassessed the importance of farmers to unite, form cooperatives and market their products collectively. Many of the advantages were discussed elaborately. Mainly the possibilities for value addition after bulking, for certification as a group and for better access to inputs and credit were mentioned.

For example, Dr. Walusimbi, researcher at ESAMI and CEO of SINFA, referred to a study conducted in the Kilimanjaro region which proved the value of certification. Certified groups recorded an increase in yield of 16%. They also managed to get a higher average price (1,8%) for their products.

Elizabeth Nsimadala, the treasurer of UCA, also had an inspiring story to tell on value addition. "As a farmer in Busheni district, West-Uganda, I had a bassin of passion fruit, worth around 60,000 UGX. I was planning on turning these into passion fruit juice, but I still had work to do on the field. Once I got back from the field, I noticed the passion fruit was no longer suitable for making juice. I decided to experiment, as I have some experience in wine making as well. I managed to turn these passion fruits into wine and do you know how much money I managed to make? As much as 2,000,000 UGX! This shows you how much potential there can be in value adding activities.”

After the presentation of some specific cases, several actors like the Ministry of Agriculture, insurance companies offering coverage for risks related to agriculture, UNFFE, UCA,… promised to keep the interests of farmers at heart.

The workshop concluded with a brainstorm session with all the participants on a way forward, to make sure we improve upon current practices. The key messages that came out of this brainstorm session were:

  • One-size-does-NOT-fit-all: Each specific group of farmers need a tailor made approach. Each model has its advantages and discontents. It will depend on context which model is the best suited
  • Inclusion of youth: Some young and ambitious farmers were among the participants and they voiced their concerns that there should be more specific attention to engage the youth (as well as use of modern communication technology to keep them interested)
  • Post-Harvest Losses: As much as 40% of cereals and 60% of fruits & vegetables are lost after harvest, due to poor storing facilities, long transport times,… If the East African Agricultural sector wants to remain competitive it will have to address this issue sooner rather than later.
  • Organic is the future: European and other high value markets are requesting more and more to provide them with organic fruits and vegetables. Demand for organic is expected to rise. Farmers do well by thinking ahead and joining this new trend
  • Value addition is key: The surest way to increase the income of farmers is by finding new and better ways to create value addition. Each model for aggregation should incorporate this aspect from inception.

VECO East Africa would like to thank all participants and key note speakers for their valuable contribution to this event. The draft report with the findings of the study will be made available on our website shortly.