Gulu University as a member of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) won two Community Action Research Program Plus (CARP+) grants in the Pig and Rice value chains in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The CARP+ is an initiative supported by RUFORUM to enable member Universities reach out, engage, and conduct actionable novel research in communities. The CARP+ enables Universities to broker Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that tackle multi-dimensional wicked problems (Wicked problems are issues that are difficult to define and can be assessed as either problems or opportunities. Strijker-van Asperen, Z.M, & van Tulder, R. (2016). Wicked Problems Plaza – Principles and Practices for Effective Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue. The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/93223) facing smallholder farmers. Consequently, Universities are able to fill institutional voids that are of a public goods nature. Moreover, the PPPs increase partnering space among congruent partners hence enhancing their relevance and contribution to shared value creation.
Of the two CARP+ projects, the rice CARP+ “Enhancing Agribusiness Rice Clusters and Market Linkages for food security and Incomes in northern Uganda” sought to intervene in the rice value chain using a two-pronged approach. The first approach which focuses on the production and supply side of the rice value chain, promotes Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs) and post-harvest handling technologies through on-farm demonstrations and learning plots to improve the production and productivity of rice. The second approach seeks to create vibrant producer organizations and market linkages with various actors along the rice value chain for enhanced access to rice output/input markets. The synergistic combination of the two approaches has resulted in “low hanging fruits” that point to: (i) improvements in rice production, productivity and market access for smallholder rice farmers, (ii) strengthened rice producer groups, and (iii) diversification into Local Seed Businesses (LSBs) with a number of producer groups selecting NAMCHE (1, 2 and 5) rice varieties for Quality Assured seed multiplication. Other potential impactful results include parboiled rice, energy briquettes from rice husks, and rice noodles from broken rice.
Description of activities of Rice producer groups
- TIC RYEMO CAN FARMERS’ Group
The TIC RYEMO CAN FARMERS’ Groupis a rice producer group registered in Nwoya district, with total membership of 30 farmers (14 males and 16 female members). The group is being supported by the Rice CARP+, Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD), National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs)/Operation wealth Creation (OWC) and Nwoya district Local Government. Through this partnership, the group has been certified to produce and trade Quality Assured Seed (QAS), has acquired a tractor, a rice cleaner, and a bulking store. The group now boasts of increased acreage under rice production (overall acreage is about 460 acres), and increased revenue from sale of QAS-rice seed to the tune of 22,500,000 Uganda Shillings (USD 6,000).
- Pabbo Rice Cooperative society
The Pabbo Rice Cooperative society is a rice producer group located in Pabo Sub County, Amuru district. In terms of composition, the group is made up of 120 members (50 males and 70 females). The cooperative has been supported under the Rice CARP+ since 2019. Through the rice demonstrations and learning plots, a number of rice varieties (both released and ‘near release’ varieties) were exposed to the farmers. From the varieties demonstrated, the cooperative members selected NAMCHE 5 and E22 varieties for further multiplication. Through the CARP+ support, the Cooperative has reported significant increases in rice acreage, and rice volumes traded.
It is worth noting that the cooperative plans to package, brand, and trade their rice under a recognized label. Further, the cooperative plans to diversify into LSBs by obtaining certification to produce and trade Quality Assured Seed (QAS). Through support of the rice CARP+ team and the area sub county agricultural officer, the Cooperative was supported to apply for a grant of 350 million Uganda Shillings from the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP. Amuru and Nwoya district are under cluster 6 which targets the Rice, Beans and Robusta coffee value chains https://www.agriculture.go.ug/the-agriculture-cluster-development-project-acdp/) . In order to be eligible to apply for the grant, farmers in the cooperative had to contribute 33% of the required amount (114 million Uganda Shillings) in-kind (e.g. land, local construction materials and labour). This grant will enable the cooperative to construct a better store, drying rack, and install necessary state of the art milling machines and equipment.
The CARP+ provides a window of opportunity for Universities to broker and operationalize PPPs to solve ‘wicked’ problems in agricultural value chains. By attracting congruent partners, broadening the partnering spaces and mutual contribution to shared value creation, interventions that align with existing or emergent producer groups’ business models are likely to succeed. For instance, through PPPs, two rice producer groups one in Amuru and the other in Nwoya districts were able to improve their organizational capacities and hence their external appeal for external support.