Scaling opportunities for food and agriculture research in Uganda

Country workshop for Food & Business Applied Research Fund projects

12 July 2019

Representatives of eight Ugandan Food & Business Applied Research Fund (ARF) projects – from research, the private sector, NGOs and governmental agencies – gathered for a country workshop in Kampala on 18-20 June. The main theme was scaling of innovations from food and agricultural research and what is needed in Ugandan policy and practise.

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Ten ARF projects have been implemented in Uganda from 2014 onwards. Since most of the projects are finalised, it was time to take stock of the insights and outcomes; to jointly reflect, learn and work on further uptake of results. During the second day, the ARF project members were joined by a large number of stakeholders from the Ugandan agrofood sector, including representatives of policy, research, civil society and private sector, for a public dialogue.

Insights in the complexity of scaling

During the project workshop day, three topics were at the centre of attention: research impact assumptions, public-private partnerships and scaling: scale out (impacting greater numbers), scale-up (impacting laws & policy) and scale deep (impacting cultural roots). The participants actively discussed these issues based on their own experiences in a World Café session. This generated insights on navigating the complexity in bringing the results of food and agricultural research to scale, and revealed a number of barriers that are hampering the scaling process, including a lacking enabling environment, limited access to finance, and the difficulties of capacity building.

Public dialogue

The ARF project members were joined by a large number of stakeholders from the Ugandan agrofood sector during the second day. Hillary Agaba, from NARO, mentioned that the main limitations to scaling in Uganda are the challenges in food distribution due to lacking infrastructure and the change needed in perceptions and attitudes. Abubakar Muhammad Moki, representing the Office of the President, confirmed that deep scaling, changing people’s mindsets, was needed before policy frameworks can be put into action. Feedback from the audience was however that efforts on policy implementation by the Ugandan government is lacking.

After the introductory, questions for a panel discussion were formulated during an open space session. The panellists underlined the importance of creating an enabling environment for (e.g.) farming cooperatives. They further mentioned that Research for Development in Uganda is still too focused on research and should shift towards development. They also spoke about linking researchers with stakeholders from the private sector. Facilitator Julia Ekong summarised these statements as the need for space.

Fieldtrip on the final day

At the final workshop day a field trip was organised to a factory of the Value Addition Institute, partner of the Afri-Taste ARF project, that produces macro-nutrient (proteins from cow milk) enhanced cereals, e.g. corn and millet, which is available in supermarkets. Thereafter the Business Incubation Centre at Makerere University was visited, which offered interesting insights into how students are offered the opportunity to develop food products and are supported setting up viable businesses.

The workshop was organised by NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development, in collaboration with the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) and AgriProFocus.

Food & Business Research

Food & Business Research aims at addressing persistent food security challenges in low and middle income countries. It focuses on the urgent and growing need for adequate knowledge and solutions for regional and local problems related to food security. Food & Business Research consists of two funding instruments: the Global Challenges Programme and the Applied Research Fund. Both are part of the Food & Business Knowledge Agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ugandan ARF projects

As all Food & Business ARF projects, the Ugandan projects aim to contribute to food security and private sector development by demand driven and innovative research. Some of the projects focus on introducing or improving the production and value chains of crops like cashew nuts, sesame, cassava, rice, Green gram and tomatoes. Others work on innovations in soil management, macro-nutrient fortification of cereals, strengthening agribusinesses ethics and seed systems for African indigenous vegetables. The approaches used show similarities: multi-stakeholder collaboration with a strong focus on innovations that are developed and implemented in interaction with end users.

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Source: Food & Business Knowledge Platform