My name is Opiyo Charles, a Ugandan aged 33 years, an agribusiness professional with eight years field experience of implementation of food security, and currently pursuing a master’s in business administration from Gulu University. I grew up in a family of seven, which depends on agriculture for our livelihood.
During my tenures, I have interfaced with farmers in the rural communities in post-war setting and now intend to transform agriculture as a family business.
Appreciating the uniqueness of each family in terms of access and control of agricultural resources, Agrofamily Stakeholders’ Platform is a project in which families host different value-chain actors for discussion—right from the time of family enterprise(s) identification, through resource planning, profitability analysis, and task-allocation, to implementation and formation of an umbrella organization: Agrifamilies Business Associations (ABA).
Agrofamily Stakeholders’ Platform puts families at the centre of any agricultural development programme. The identification of agro-opportunities and threats for a family, and its empowerment, lays a strong foundation for the establishment of successful business associations. Through linkages, families host different stakeholders and discuss critical issues, through which household development plans are developed and implemented. In this way, interventions are tailored to respond to real household needs. For instance, a family might choose maize as an enterprise for business promotion, then a detailed discussion of the entire value chain is held with the families, then a family is fitted along the chain in respect to their opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses. To operationalize the family value-chain plan of action, I map the value-chain actors, and initiate home visits and referrals for support.
For a period of time, normally one year, families with similar value-chain characteristics are brought together to consolidate their efforts under Agrofamilies Business Associations that then register at the sub-county and district. I then select enterprise(s) that each association has a value-chain comparative advantage over, which I intend to promote internationally in the near future.
I conceived this idea as a result of the many business opportunities that I personally see along the different agro-value-chain lines. And I believe using a family-centred approach could help families identify and fit themselves, and benefit from these available opportunities along the different value-chain lines. The interesting thing is the availability and endowment of families with factors of production that range from family labours and land to social infrastructures, like community agricultural stores, roads, and other value-chain actors.
This, I believe, will give families gains in terms of employment, access to education (even at higher levels), and improvement of living standards, as families are strengthened economically. To me, this would be a great success towards the realization of my dream of commercializing agriculture. It will give me the opportunity to advance my career in the area of rural development and agriculture, through exposure to outside people and experience-sharing.
The following steps are used to identify a family for this project:
- A family is referred by local leaders/community, then family visits are arranged to explain the objectives and seek consensus upon which family-interest/needs assessment is conducted.
- This is preceded by family goal-setting.
- Resources/family-capacity assessment is then conducted to guide development of household development plans (family-value-chain plans of action).
- From these, the best alternative(s) are selected by the families, who then mobilize family resources to execute the plan(s).
- The family-value-chain plans of action form the commitment between the project and the families. They define the appropriate schedules for involving the external stakeholders that leads to graduation to the ABA.
To-date and alone, I have supported a maximum of five families. They have selected maize and poultry as their business. The idea developed out of the scientific/technical discussion: to leverage resources by producing feeds for poultry rearing families; and, at the same time, use poultry waste as a manure in the production of maize, which is an organic method of production.
The success of this project will be measured on the basis of the number of families reached and supported to become agribusiness families, the number of Agro families business associations registered, and the average monthly household income, including the household major income sources.
The execution of the activities is as follows:
- Household development planning USD 900 (June 2016)
- Value-chain development/actors engagement with households USD 1,200 (July to December 2016)
- Direct support to households USD 1,400 (July to December 2016)
- Learning visits USD 1,100 (January to March 2017)
- Documentation USD 400 (April to May 2017)
Blogpost and picture submitted by Opiyo Charles (Uganda): charlesscore[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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