9 November 2010, Dhaka. During a recent visit to BRAC Uganda's Agriculture Research and Seed Production Center in Nakaseke district, Uganda’s Finance, Planning and Economic Development Minister, Honorable Syda Bhumba, commended BRAC for becoming one of the most successful nongovernmental organizations internationally.
“BRAC has set up a global record for establishing world class development programs. They are very successful in microfinance and they are considered to be one of the most successful organisations globally,” Minister Bhumba said during her visit.
The 53 acre Agriculture research center in Nakaseke District has been established with the purpose of testing and replicating new high yielding disease resistant seed varieties. Lack of access to good quality seeds at affordable cost is one of the fundamental challenges faced by farmers in Uganda. BRAC Uganda currently provides agricultural extension services to more than 50,000 farmers in the country through its vast network of microfinance branches. The services are provided at the village level through franchised entrepreneurs selected by BRAC Uganda from the pool of microfinance borrowers. BRAC Uganda's portfolio of 'microfinance multiplied' programs, including the agriculture extension services, are implemented in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation.
During Minister Bhumba’s visit to the Agriculture Research Center in Nakaseke, BRAC Uganda’s Country Program Head, Ariful Islam, said that the organization’s agriculture, poultry and livestock programs are aimed at helping to meet the food security needs and household incomes of the small farmers, especially women. He said this was done through offering extension services, improved seeds and training.
Mr. Islam said that the facility in Nakaseke would go a long way in meeting BRAC’s goal of contributing to Uganda’s “Prosperity for All” program. The center with an initial capacity of 25 residential trainees will train both extension workers as well as farmers in modern agricultural practices and will be open for use to other partners in the industry.
“Our future plans include large scale production and marketing of improved seeds for both the local market and the market in the region,” Mr. Islam said.
The minister said that BRAC interventions in the country were alleviating problems that were identified in the government’s National Development Plan. She reiterated the challenges faced by the farmers, which include, lack of quality seeds, lack of marketing structure, lack of credit appropriate for agriculture, lack of extension services, lack of market infrastructure and value addition and lack of high yielding seeds.
She said seeds on the market were very expensive, at Shs2,500 per kilogram, and quite often farmers were sold fake seeds.
“We have only three seed companies in a country of over 30 million people, 80% of who depend on agriculture. The few seed companies are monopolistic and therefore charge high prices. So, BRAC will offer competition and, thus, lower prices,” the Minister said.