In 2017, I was among the first cohort beneficiaries of the Mastercard Foundation at RUFORUM Scholarship programme. During the nearly one month orientation training at Egerton University, we were tasked to develop personal purpose statements and “Creation of market linkages” was my personal purpose statement. I focused on this because growing up in a peasant’s household and in my rural communities, farmers complain of market while those who seek to buy agricultural produce often complained of the limited availability of the commodities. It was my turn and determination to take on this routine problem!
Through the Mastercard Foundation funded scholarship, I embarked on my graduate studies at Gulu University and conducted my research titled the “Determinants of consumer preference for pork products in Northern Uganda”. During my research I was confronted with the similar old problem; the institutional consumers reported scarcity of pigs that they could buy yet the smallholder pig farmers were complaining of limited market, making them reap little from pig farming. Based on this, I recommended for market linkages to be created and participants to be trained on production of some value added products which were limited in the market and mostly imported from Kenya yet we produce a lot of pork.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) made a call for competitive Field Attachment Programme Award (FAPA) that focuses on supporting graduate students to disseminate their findings to the community and take deliberate initiative in community mobilisation for agricultural transformation. I seized this opportunity to fulfil my desire to broker market linkages. I thus submitted a proposal titled “Enhancing Sustainable Market Linkages for Increased Smallholder Pig Incomes in Northern Uganda” that got funded. This FAPA project focused on two objectives: (i) create market linkages among consumers, traders and producers of pork, and (ii) train smallholder farmers, butchers and pork joints on production of specialized cuts and differentiated pork products.
During the FAPA implementation, I was able to gain excellent community mobilization and communication skills. I was able to mobilize 48 institutional consumers-all businesses that buy live pigs for business purposes including pork eateries, butchers, hotels and restaurants dealing in pork. I was also able to mobilize smallholder pig farmers for the project. Other participants included the District Veterinary officer of Gulu District and the district speaker. Estimates from 11 institutional buyers revealed that they require about 307 kilograms per day which translates to about 9210 kilograms per month (about 420 pigs). When I extrapolate this, I find that the 48 institutional buyers would require about 1,826 pigs per month. However, the 60 pig-farmers ( I worked with had a total of 255 pigs; these in essence would be consumed under one month. While they are not the only pig-farmers, it represents the underlying demand and a potential production deficit of pigs in northern Uganda.
In one multi-stakeholder meeting that we held at Gulu District Council Hall where 48 pig farmers (27 females and 33 males) from Gulu and Omoro districts, three district leaders and 11 institutional consumers pork joint owners) in attended, pig farmers were able to share market related challenges with the institutional consumers. Both the producers and buyers of pigs interacted freely, shared complaints and received prompt feedback. The meeting also helped the institutional consumers explain the quality of pigs they expect from the farmers.
The Gulu District Speaker, Hon. Okwonga John also intimated to the participants the issue of high demand for pork in Gulu which to him was a golden opportunity that the smallholder pig producers need to urgently tap. The multi-stakeholder meeting also helped to notify the two district leadership about the project and this was particularly important for me as a serving District Councilor in Gulu District. During this stakeholder dialogue, it was recommended that the district administration needs to support smallholder pig farmer groups with livelihood grants often provided by Government of Uganda so that are in position to increase their production capacity to meet the demand and maintain quality standards demanded by the institutional buyers. On the other hand, Dr. Obalim Charles the District Veterinary Officer provided trained the participants on techniques for detecting infected pigs and for management of pig diseases.
During the course of the FAPA, I had the opportunity to also train participants on the production of different pork cuts and how to produce pork chops; this is a skill that is grossly lacking among the pig-value chain actors in northern Uganda. This helped the participants to appreciate the importance of producing specialized cuts and that they can make more money. Participants had a positive feedback on the experience, one farmer.
Ms. Aol Margret from Abwoch Guna in Omoro district said “Through this training I have now learnt how to cut different pork parts and fix their prices which will improve my pork business”
While Ms. Ayot Milly and institutional buyer said “Am happy that the project has helped me meet pig farmers and get their contacts which will make it easy to find pork and live pigs because I used to face problem of scarcity”
I am delighted that during the period of this FAPA, I have been able to broker linkages among 60 smallholder pig farmers and 48 institutional consumers; this number will be grown in due course as I have established a platform for engagement. In this platform, both the smallholder pig producers and institutional buyers are linked and have the contacts for each other. They are now able to place orders through telephone. In order to keep the engagement vibrant, we have formed groups and elected leaders for both pig farmers and institutional consumers according to the different locations. This was done to help the farmers collectively market their pigs and pork and to increase their bargaining power. Group formation was also done to help the farmers to be in position to apply for livelihood grants from government as a group. Leaders of the pork eateries s were also elected to help with coordination with pig farmers. I am particularly thrilled that I have started to put into practice my mission statement that I cultivated in 2017 and to me, this is a dream come true!
With great pleasure I acknowledge the endless support from the Mastercard Foundation through the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) for funding this Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA). The support helped me to implement my study recommendations. I also acknowledge Gulu District Local Government, Omoro district, the smallholder pig farmers, the pork joint owners and butchers for taking active participation and support during the project implementations. I also acknowledge support from Faculty of Agriculture especially the project supervisor Dr. Elly Kurobuza Ndyomugyenyi and Dr. Tony Aliro for the guidance and support during the exercise.
Lucy Achiro currently serves as the councillor LC3 of Bardege Division, Gulu Municipality in Gulu District and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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