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Ugandan university promotes agribusiness initiative

Makerere University in Uganda is set to unveil a programme to boost agribusiness initiatives for its agriculture undergraduate and postgraduate students

Professor Samuel Kyamanywa, the programme director, said the university aims to prepare students with a business mindset that will help them better serve the private sector.

“We are transforming the curriculum going beyond producing public sector agricultural extension workers, who are knowledgeable in areas like agronomy and soil science, into meeting the job demands of the private sector by producing graduates with skills on how the produce from the farms can be turned into finished products and marketed,” Kyamanywa said.

The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), the University of Copenhagen and NIRAS International are some of the institutions supporting the programme.

The programme follows the formation six years ago of the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD) between the university and public and private organisations.

CURAD has so far enabled the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute in Kabanyoro to help undergraduate and postgraduate agriculture students create viable agribusiness plans.

Joseph Nkandu, a founding member of CURAD and an international coffee agribusiness expert, claimed that when the students’ business plans are viable, CURAD supports them with working capital.

According to the consortium, its revolving fund has extended support to many potential agribusiness entrepreneurs, mainly in the coffee value chain and general food processing, to develop their agribusinesses to sustainable levels while paying back to CURAD.

Small-scale firms and the general public interested in agribusiness are also eligible to access financial support from the fund.