The Tale of the Emerging Agri-preneurs – SPODA, One Year in the Making
This article intends to provide an insight of the birth of an agro-entrepreneurial story in a huge manuscript that is in the making.
There came a season when the rains had not come, those were times so strange. With unemployment rates rocketing through the roof, political turbulence, high inflations and every man for themselves. It was amidst those challenging times that through a MUK advert, posted on the rugged boards of CAES and COVAB which marked the start of a journey that has unveiled ever since. The opportunity to venture into a totally unfamiliar territory in search of knowledge for the advancement of our societies. At this point, it is worth noting that, continued connections with professors and colleagues got the particular individuals in the know and definitely the chance to be a part of this life-changing program. And on the 24th of February 2017, at 19:05 local time in Uganda, a lift-off at Entebbe international airport, AIRBUS A320 saw the selected team embark on this journey. The team comprised of three (3) Veterinarians and nine (9) Agriculturalists purposed to explore one of Asia’s most developed nations, South Korea, in search of expert technical know-how in livestock production. The major areas of focus were production technologies, animal nutrition and health, and genetic improvement. An earlier MoU signed in 2016 between two top academic institutions, Makerere University in Uganda and Chonbuk National University (CBNU) in South Korea provided a firm foundation.
This was proceeded with an orientation program at the, by then, newly opened National Farmers’ Leadership Center (NFLC) which was commissioned by the former president of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, during her visit to Uganda.
Team was trained in a diverse ithin the period of a year, the range of concepts and production technologies, both at the host institution CBNU and industrial training for applicability in industries and farms. These have included; Korean Swine Institute of Technology (Mother Well farm), Sohae and Doozy farm among others; Gene Biotech Co. Ltd (feed company) and L and H Genetics
(reproductive technologies). This has created a breed pioneering expatriates who are knowledgeable and resilient enough to handle the turbulence within Uganda’s livestock sector and eventually establish a strategic path that will ultimately revolutionize the feed industry, breeding systems and transform the small-holder systems of animal production to industrial and commercial production lines.
It is from such a background that the Idea
of establishing a collaborative body emerged. With prof. Lee Hakkyo’s grand vision for Uganda and Africa at large and the practical insights and counsel from prof. Jae Young Heo, the said pioneers were compelled to buckle down and think about the future of the farmers in the Pearl of Africa. And in a series of meetings, arguments, debates, and disagreements, inspired by Dodram Farmers’ Cooperative with great support from the late chairman Jin Jil Boo, one prominent idea sprung out. It is one which all members ultimately wanted and so, members unanimously decided that some kind of cooperative was needed as a focal point for knowledge sharing and technology transfer for the projects and programs which lay ahead. This resolution was highly welcomed and it saw the late chairman Jin Jil Boo positively steering it through a financial seed investment of US$1000 which actually constituted the initial cooperative saving. A tentative cooperative body was set in the mind of every member and on the 16th of March, 2017, a democratic election of the cooperative’s governing body was elected held in room 412 New Silk Road Center, Chonbuk
National University, South Korea. The members agreed that the cooperative would be led by Mr. Buwembo Micheal as chairman. It is after this point that we saw fundamental initiatives being taken in an effort to set a momentum that would drive the established organ for the next century. Among these were, the development of the cooperative name on the 6th of June, 2017, spearhead by the newly elected secretary, Dr. Bogere S. Paul. It should be noted that, as names like UGOFAC and others went through a series of scrutiny, Swine Poultry and Dairy (SPODA) Cooperative was agreed upon as the tentative name for the cooperative body to house this team of trained expatriates. Dr. Bigirwa Godfrey, the only Ph.D. candidate on the team, was brought on board as an advisor but later embraced the ideology to become a member. Finally, the entire team decided to establish a saving scheme as the primary source of funds for the establishment of the cooperative structures. It is noteworthy that, prof. Jae
Young Heo and prof. Lee Hakkyo of Chonbuk National University and prof. Bashasha Bernard of Makerere University were strategically maintained as key partners and senior advisors.
However, like many start-ups, the most recent endeavor of SPODA is creating its own unique identity. Additionally, with the Agro-Industrial Complex pilot project presumed to kick-off in 2019, at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK), in which SPODA will be a key implementing partner and the need for it to play leadership role amongst the farming communities and stakeholders attached to the AIC program, it would necessitate strong leaderships and strategically planned investments for the responsibilities that lay ahead. At understanding this, intense discussions are currently ongoing, particularly on the type of body SPODA is to emerge as – either as a cooperative or company limited by guarantee. Furthermore, technical debates are underway on developing a tangible financial investment to absorb the expatriates’ immense and diverse knowledge and create an avenue for dissemination through extension and capacity building programs and consultancy. To this regard, on the 24th of October, 2017, in room 401 (Animal Feed Technology Lab, CBNU), the members of SPODA including the new ones agreed to the proposed US$30,000 project. This compelled the governing body to take a step into developing a clear concept as advised by the associated stakeholders.
Members’ limitations and ully knowing each and every challenges, we are willing to rise from the depths through harnessing individual potentials under a single umbrella body. We strongly hold SPODA as an entity with tremendous optimism, that it will open up a new chapter in Uganda’s livestock production, animal feed industry and genetic pool for modern agriculture aimed at attaining food security, improved livelihoods, and national economy.
Buule M David
SPODA Enterprises Limited
Re-defining Uganda’s Agriculture