Shs 7.5 billion green challenge fund launched to support agribusinesses
- Written by SAMUEL MUHINDO
Agriculture Business Initiative (aBi) Development Limited has launched a Shs 7.5 billion Green Challenge Fund (GCF).
Mona Muguma Ssebuliba, the chief executive officer of aBi, said the green challenge fund had been developed to address the increasing spells of drought and floods – otherwise known as climate change – on Uganda’s agriculture sector.
She emphasized that the fund shall be focused on supporting small and medium agricultural businesses to be able to adapt to new farming methods that can safeguard their crops from being wiped out as a result of floods and drought.
“Under climate change adaptation, resources shall be directed towards the investment in drought-resistant seeds and the production of hay and silage for the animals. To mitigate climate change, the fund shall be directed at encouraging the adoption of solar energy, clean stove for cooking, and emphasis on tree planting most especially the indigenous trees like macadamia... the fund shall also encourage the use of organic fertilizers.”
While the fund shall start with an amount of Shs 7.5 billion, the plan is to scale it up to Shs 20 billion by 2023. According to Ssebuliba, the fund will be open to all actors that make contributions to aBi. Some of these actors include NGOs, scientists, researchers, and start-ups. It is expected to run for 12 to 24 months depending on the nature of the project.
She added, “To encourage youth involvement, aBi shall finance agriculturalists who require anywhere between Shs 4 million and Shs 30 million. We are willing to take that risk and walk through the ideation journey with our youthful innovators. The piloting segment shall receive funding of Shs 50 million to Shs 200 million, while agribusiness actors that have been in operation for two years shall qualify for funding of up to Shs 500 million.”
John Nuwagaba, the general manager of Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union, located in Sheema district, welcomed the fund, saying it would shield them from the negative brunt of climate change.
“When the sun is not too much to damage our crops, it shall rain heavily and still wash away our coffee. Ankole region currently suffers severe drought almost every after two years, which has affected our output. Sometimes, the coffee ripens prematurely because of the sunshine. We are hopeful that this money shall help us access more climate and pest-resistant seedlings.”
Uganda’s agriculture is evidently experiencing a rapidly declining productivity mainly because of the effects of climate change. The population depends on agriculture combined with changing climate patterns and unsustainable land management. This is partly why Uganda is ranked 12th among the most vulnerable countries to climate change globally.
The July 2022 monetary policy statement released by the Bank of Uganda blamed the higher domestic food crop prices on the effects of the prolonged dry weather conditions on food harvests.
During the same period, the recently released World Bank economic update for Uganda indicated that the majority of the Ugandan population was faced with a pending occurrence of food shortage. The report blamed the eminent food shortage on work stoppages at the start of the financial year 2021/2022 when the country was put under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Uganda’s Vision 2040 aspires to achieve economic development and socio-economic transformation based on green economy principles like equity, environmental sustainability, resource efficiency, and inclusiveness. A sustainable environment is one of the pathways for Uganda to achieve a middle-income status.