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UNADA Partner

A Concerted Effort on the Revival of UNADA

The revival of UNADA, after about 5 years of slow operational activity, is being achieved by way of implementation of a project code named “DAI/AFAP project” that has two major objectives. Objective 1 is to increase the accessibility and availability of high-quality inputs for farmers by establishing a total of 11 Hub Agro-Dealers who will harness their distribution networks to serve up to 275 rural input retailers (25 per Hub). Objective 2 is to strengthen UNADA’s capacity in the provision of member-centered services in order to grow the internal revenue collections (subscriptions/memberships fees) up to a total of USD 13,000 mobilized from a network of 515 agro-input dealers and also be able to raise at least 80% of the projected USD 31,206 from other additional revenue streams (safe use training, agro-dealer register, newsletters/advertising).

The project’s implementation strategy is comprised of two main tasks of engaging directly with private agro-input distributors and of providing support to motivated companies to adopt the Hub agro-dealer model. The Hub agro-dealer model provides a one-stop shop access to quality agricultural inputs, extension/advisory services and marketing assistance for agricultural outputs. The approach comprises a set of rural input retail networks attached to a “Hub” to form a well-coordinated and effective last-mile inputs distribution system. In so doing, farmer-facing input retailers are incentivized to be of a high-quality service to farmers. This in turn leads to higher sales volume, a deeper understanding of market needs, higher levels of product knowledge and awareness in the marketplace. Further, AFAP provided technical assistance to the Uganda National Agro-Input Dealers Association (UNADA) that enables it to rebuild its role as an umbrella organization/advocacy platform that protects the interests of its members and improves membership service delivery using more business-oriented, sustainable strategies.
Currently UNADA is highly dependent on external funding and the performance-based partnership with AFAP is incentivizing UNADA to demonstrate progress toward more financial independence. AFAP is supporting UNADA to devise viable solutions that enhance diversity not only in revenue streams but also in membership-oriented services. This will enable the association to deliver services relevant to its members sustainably whilst maintaining general oversight on the health of the inputs business landscape in Uganda. The project implementation approach that AFAP is employing is as follows:

(i) Strengthening the last-mile Inputs Distribution Systems: By leveraging the FtF IAM funding, AFAP is creating a footprint for the Hub agro-dealer model through strengthening the capacity of selected input businesses (Hubs), who demonstrate interest/willingness to invest in establishing and scaling commercially viable inputs retail networks, especially in the underserved communities, thereby increasing access to inputs, technical knowledge, and linkages to resources for farmers. Moreover, AFAP acknowledges the need for great emphasis on supporting the Hubs in building/strengthening business relationships with credible input suppliers and other market players aimed at transforming their retailer networks into profitable business units. Strong business relationships stimulate further investment in market-share expansion which ultimately delivers scarce value in terms of quality, access, and availability to the underserved market segments. Enabling such improvements to take shape within the underserved communities not only lowers the cost of supply but also increases farm-level demand – thus creating a situation where the private sector has greater incentives to expand input distribution networks to farmers who currently have limited or no access. Each Hub is attached to a network of input retailers who support both the input and output aggregation components. In the case of outputs, the retailers close to the farming communities take charge of aggregation on behalf of the Hub or the identified market by the Hub.

(ii) AFAP identified and recruited potential candidates for the Hubs agro-dealer role through a multi-pronged approach involving newspaper adverts; targeting legally registered businesses which demonstrated 2 – 4 years of business history and a viable distribution network. AFAP tapped into the UNADA network, input supply companies, District Farmer Associations, UNFFE (Uganda National Farmers Federation), to identify the 11 inputs businesses that have been developed into regional Hub agro dealers.

AFAP has established at least 3 Hub Agro-dealers per focal region (South-Western, Mt. Elgon region, Northern and Karamoja Corridor) with each Hub having the capacity to retail with at least 25 agro-input retailers. Except for the Elgon sub-region, each of the other 3 focal regions has an AFAP supported Hub agro-dealer. The small evolving rural input retailers have been linked by AFAP to the Hub who may initially offer small volumes of credit and technical advice increasing as the business relationships also grow. Generally, Hubs are able to secure inputs on credit from most suppliers (Fertilizers, agro-chemicals, and seeds). Most of the Hubs access and service credit facilities from the financial institutions and continually borrow to stock agro-inputs and farmers outputs at the beginning and end of cropping seasons, respectively. AFAP selected, developed and is working with a total of 11 Hub agrodealers and among these there are 3 priorly existing ones and 8 new ones. They are herewith outlined:-