Transforming the Uganda maize system
Of the estimated 850 million seriously undernourished people in the world, three quarters live in rural areas dependent on small scale, traditional agriculture. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 20% of the population is acutely malnourished and lives in extreme poverty while trying to subsist on agriculture. In Uganda over 70% of the population depends on agriculture, usually eking out a precarious subsistence from tiny plots of land. Despite growing food crops such as maize, about 10.7 million people or 30% of the total population suffer from severe undernourishment. About 39% of children experience stunting due to poor quality food. Many are caught in a trap. A lack of resources limits the ability of farmers and agricultural workers to produce and sell enough of a surplus to invest in improving and expanding their farms and meeting other critical household needs.
This case study looks at a proof of concept for modernising the traditional small farmer system and bringing it into the supply chain of a sophisticated company. It does so through an organisational model that is both commercially viable and sustainable. After introducing the key actors and the systemic challenges they faced in 2009, the case study looks at the pathways for creating economic and social value. Of critical importance is the emergence of a trader that transforms itself into a new type of supply chain manager investing in backward linkages to the farmers and forward linkages to the end buyers. Systemic change leads to surprisingly fast response by the farmers - which in turn creates value for all actors in the system.
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