COVID Recovery Project to Revive 600 Agri Businesses in Northern Uganda
With funding from Standard Chartered Foundation under “Futuremakers” by Standard Chartered, a global initiative to tackle inequality, ICCO launched its COVID Youth Agri Business Recovery Project, a partnership with Enterprise Uganda and Youth Business International to facilitate the revival, growth and expansion for 600 youth-led enterprises in Lango and Karamoja sub regions of northern Uganda that were negatively affected by the global pandemic.
“The project will enhance the knowledge and skills of 600 entrepreneurs in Nebbi and Lira districts through business development trainings, strategic linkages with existing and future investments opportunities and technical support in business plan development, coaching, and mentoring,” said Petra Van Haren, ICCO Uganda Country Manager, at the event in Kampala.
ICCO presented findings of a recent study of the impact of COVID on youth enterprises in Nebbi district to the Uganda Cabinet Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Vincent Sempijja, district government representatives in Lira and Nebbi, members of civil society organizations, the private sector and media.
The findings highlighted several negative impacts including:
- a drastic drop in monthly revenue due to limited access to markets resulting from travel restrictions
- limited access to technical agro-extension services, as some government extension workers were unable to reach the grassroots.
On the other hand, the report emphasized that some coping mechanisms were key in the survival of some enterprises during lock down. Think of the use of social media, door to door supply and farm gate sales to market produce and diversification of agribusinesses along the value chains.
Testimonies from entrepreneurs in Nebbi and Lira districts further highlighted the vulnerability of businesses that were affected by the pandemic.
Dickens Okot, a poultry farmer in Lira district:
“My business had successfully grown over the years to 3000 birds, and I was supplying some local and regional factories with different products. The lockdown blocked me from accessing the usual quality feeds and medicine for my birds, and in three short months I lost 900.”
Patience Amiya, a cassava producer in Nebbi district:
“In 2018, out of need to meet my family’s growing needs, I ventured into cassava trade. I bought some cassava cheaply from people harvesting and hoarded it until the market was vibrant for selling. Since it was going so well, I invested heavily in land for production. Unfortunately, when COVID 19 hit, I had over 10 tons of hoarded stock and almost all of it went bad! I lost my money and hope.”
The one-year project will leverage ICCO’s technical partnerships in the private and public sector to ensure that youth-led businesses are revived, stabilized and grow to create employment opportunities for more young people with the local communities and; mentor the next generation of young entrepreneurs to ably fortify their businesses against emergencies.