Situated in Northeastern Uganda, the Karamoja sub-region has for a long time, been associated with pastoralism. However, this narrative is steadily changing as more people get involved in crop farming. Some of the crops grown in Karamoja include sesame, beans, maize, sunflower, millet, and sorghum. For a region that has suffered perennial droughts, food insecurity, and high poverty levels, improvement in agricultural production and market systems is paramount.
Oasis Agribusiness Uganda Limited has partnered with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets (FtF IAM) Activity to support a market-based approach that provides agriculture services like inputs, market linkages, and other business development services to farming households. Oasis has adopted the village agent model in order to engage different actors in the market: the poor, women, youth, farming households, aggregators, and input suppliers to enhance access to agricultural inputs and extension, as well as linkage to market for produce.
Prior to the partnership with the FtF IAM Activity, Oasis did not have any operations in Karamoja. Through a market assessment, Oasis realized that many farming households in Karamoja incurred high costs on inputs and transport and had limited access to markets for produce. Specifically, farmers had to travel to Mbale to buy inputs such as seeds and agrochemicals.
“I’m very grateful to USAID for bringing Oasis close to us. Oasis has greatly enhanced our knowledge and provided access to agriculture services and products that were previously far-fetched. I’m earning better from farming today than ever before.” Christine Alimo, Farmer, and Village Agent, Abim district.
Six months into the partnership with the FtF IAM Activity, Oasis has opened a regional agribusiness center in Alerek town council, Abim district, and service Outlets in Kotido district (Abim and Kotido are located 480 Km and 510 km respectively North East of Kampala, Uganda’s capital). The company has enrolled 24 Village Agents and profiled 37 agro-service providers. These agents and service providers are linked to farmers within Abim and Kotido to provide last-mile services. Oasis has managed to reach 8,000 farmers with extension services through a digital platform.
During the six months in Karamoja, Oasis has earned UGX. 54,291,500 (USD 15,081) from sales of agricultural inputs to farmers, UGX. 23,807,520 (USD 6,613) from sales of grain and UGX. 7,300,000 (USD 2,028) from the supply of agricultural inputs to other development partners (Non-Government Organizations), making a profit of UGX. 18,000,000 (USD 5,000).
Walter Odyek, the Oasis Head of Operations said, “the FtF IAM Activity has enabled the participation of youth, women, and people with a disability in commercial agriculture. This has transformed the social and economic well-being of the people of Karamoja.”
Oasis’s success in Karamoja has not been without the commitment of both the Oasis and the FtF IAM Activity team through constant monitoring of businesses, support from the local leadership, and cooperation of the community as well as the investment of resources in terms of time, energy, and money.
Author: Dorothy Nabatanzi for FtF IAM.