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Coffee value chain agribusiness incubator launched in Uganda

Coffee smallholder farmers in Uganda can now look forward to better entrepreneurship and agribusiness opportunities and become stronger players in the coffee value chain with the launch of the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD). CURAD also aims to work towards becoming the leading generator of young agribusiness entrepreneurs to create jobs and wealth in East Africa.

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Dr Y Akinbamijo and Dr KK Sharma interacting with CURAD incubatees.
Photo: B Kumar, ICRISAT

ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program has facilitated the establishment of CURAD, an agribusiness incubator that will work along the coffee value chain, at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Station, Kabanyolo in Kampala, Uganda.

CURAD is one of the six agribusiness incubators being established under the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa’s initiative on Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (FARA-UniBRAIN) project with mentoring support from ICRISAT-ABI of the institute’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP).

“FARA is committed to help the African farming community through initiatives like CURAD. We will work towards promoting agro-entrepreneurs in Uganda and elevate the position of Ugandan coffee in the international market,” said Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director, FARA and chief guest during the launch.

In his keynote address, Dr Kiran K Sharma, CEO, ICRISAT-AIP, highlighted ABI’s efforts in mentoring 22 agribusiness incubators in India and in establishing five Food Processing Business Incubation Centers in Africa under the India-Africa Forum Summit-II. He also spoke of extending support to all Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortia (AIIC) established under FARA-UniBRAIN and in exploring opportunities to scale-up this unique initiative across different African nations and work towards their sustainability.

“The Danish Government contributes about US$ 2 billion every year for various development activities across the globe and it will continue to support initiatives like UniBRAIN in the African continent,” said Mr Henrik Vistisen, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark.

“The AIIC established under the UniBRAIN initiative is committed to carry out extensive entrepreneurship activities in Africa and contribute immensely to the overall development of different nations,” said Mr Alex Ariho, UniBRAIN facility coordinator.

Others who spoke during the launch were: Mr Joseph Nkandu, Executive Director, National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE); and Dr Samuel Kyamanywa, Principal Investigator of CURAD. Hon Gerald Ssendaula, CURAD Board Chairperson; Prof Bernard Bashasha, Principal, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University; Ms Irene Frempong, Director, FARA; and many other dignitaries were present during the program.

Officially launched on 9 May, CURAD is primarily promoted by the Makerere University, NUCAFE, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), the University of Copenhagen, and NIRAS International.

FARA also organized a UniBRAIN steering committee meeting on 8 May, where Mr Ariho presented the progress and scaling-up strategy of UniBRAIN.

Mr S Aravazhi, COO, ICRISAT-ABI, presented the institute’s experiences in successfully running the Network of Indian Agribusiness Incubators (NIABI) and the way forward for the African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN) leading to the formation of the Global Agribusiness Incubation (GABI) network.