By Our Reporter
Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), has announced that it will expand its Farm for Success, previously Local Raw Material, program from the current 35,000 farmers to 50,000 farmers as the company seeks to sustainably source 100% of agriculture materials used in producing its various brands from Uganda, specifically from farmers of Barley, Sorghum, and corn by 2030. This was during the annual farmers symposium that Uganda breweries created as a platform to create mutual understanding, collaboration, policy alignment, problem-solving, and ultimately, fostering economic growth and development among the various stakeholders in the agriculture value chain.
The Local Raw Material program started in 1987 with Barley farming but the program kicked off in earnest in 2003 when the Government of Uganda introduced excise concessions for beer produced from locally resourced raw materials to facilitate the choice and use of local raw materials in the alcohol production process. UBL was then able to make several investments to accommodate increased local raw materials, for example, a $21.3 million Mash Filter investment in 2011. That same year, payments to farmers peaked at over 14 billion, jumped to 26 billion in 2017, and currently stands at over UGX 52 billion as of 2022. Increasing the number of farmers to over 50,000 will see Uganda Breweries increase farmer payouts to over 80 billion in the next 5 years.
Speaking at the 2nd annual Farmers Symposium that ran under the theme Innovations in Agro technology, seed and other Agro input, Mr. Andrew Kilonzo, the Managing Director of UBL stressed that as part of the company’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in their processes, they will be looking to onboard more women and people with disabilities as part of this program, adding that the goal will be to source over 60% of the agricultural produce from women farmers as well as people with disabilities.
“We do this, not just to meet a quarter, but part of sourcing sustainably means that people who have not been a part of this value chain are brought to the table, and are supported in the best farming practices not only so that they can supply us the grain that we need, but that they can earn a livelihood, be self-sufficient and hopefully, pay it forward to the other previously marginalized communities. For that reason, we shall have targeted capacity training sessions with women groups across the country as part of onboarding for this process.” Mr. Andrew Kilonzo stated.
Under Uganda Breweries’ Society 2030 program, the goal is to provide 100% of local sourcing communities with agricultural skills and resources, building economic and environmental resilience and supporting 150,000 smallholder farmers.
The State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Fred Bwino Kyakulaga while officiating the Farmers Symposium said that programs like UBL’s Farm for Success are in line with several government objectives as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) III in the areas of agro industrialization, import substitution/promotion of local manufacturing as well as the mandate of government to improve policy and infrastructure that strengthens the private sector to create jobs for inclusive growth, employment, and sustainable wealth creation.
The UBL’s Farm for Success program also initiated strategic partnerships with government agencies like the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), to boost and promote Research, improve seed quality and disease control, and improve soil quality for purposes of advancing agricultural productivity. The other was Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), also a 5-year partnership focusing on areas such as; the exchange of experience and capacity building of selected farmers in the use of agriculture technologies and increase production of the 3 strategic crops – Barley, Sorghum and Cassava, as well as to support Training Farmers, Research, Expand market for farmers’ produce.
Uganda Breweries currently works with over 35,000 farmers from all over the country to purchase over 8,000 Tonnes of Barley, 15,000 Tonnes of Sorghum, 18,000 Tonnes of Maize, and 1,000 Tonnes of Cassava; 30% of that from Northern Uganda, 25% from Eastern Uganda, 35% from Western Uganda and 10% from Central Region.