In a quest aimed at increasing food security, maternal and child nutrition, Uganda National Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in partnership with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and Uganda Capital Development Bank (UCDB) Limited has launched the Support to Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation (START) project for Lango, Teso, Karamoja, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions.
START is expected to contribute to increase food security, improved maternal and child nutrition, and enhanced household income as a key outcome of the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU).
DINU is a government of Uganda programme supported by the Europen Union for an amount of 132.8 Million Euro which is approximately 603 billion Uganda shilling.
At its launch held at St. Lira Hotel on Thursday, Daniel Kisekka, the START Grants Manager says projects (selected enterprises) will be able to get grants from Uganda shs.40 million up-to shs.400 million. The scheme is for 5 years.
He added that the programme intends to offer accessible medium term finances for Agricultural Value Addition and Seed Capital in the form of concessional loans, grants and partial guarantees.
“The design of START is looking at formal businesses so, that is a design question and that is why I said that as individuals, the only way START will target you is when you formalize under a group, as an association, or a member of a cooperative union or something of that sort but we are not targeting individuals and that´s a design we have. Ladies and gentlemen, you shouldn’t forget about other government initiatives that probably look at targeting individuals at the production level stage, ¨ Kisekka explains.
“As a woman, an entrepreneur, I will talk about issues pertaining to my femininity as far as this initiative is concerned. Am brining in a plight where we women have to gain from this initiative as much as possible and am looking at the 25% and also the conditions placed. You are looking at issues of value addition yet most of the women in this region are still at the production level and I do not know how we shall be helped to see that we don’t see it as a story, ¨ a female participant wondered.
Responding to her, Michael Mboowa, the START Facility Manager explained that women and youth are all catered for as stated in object number 2 of its overall goals.
“As START, we also specifically start with women and the youth in this initiative but also the design of START is looking at agro- processing and value addition and for women who are at that level, we will do our out most best to ensure that they are targeted and supported,” Mr. Mboowa gave assurance to female entrepreneurs.
Under DINU, he says there is another component looking at the production while START confines itself on processing and value addition.
According to officials, The START project will be implemented in the 33 districts in Acholi, Teso, Karamoja, Lango and West Nile sub-regions.
Some of the districts to benefit per sub-region are:
Karamoja sub-region: Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Napak.
Acholi sub-region: Agagao, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, Omoro and Pader.
Lango sub-region: Apac, Amolatar, Alebtong, Dokolo, Lira, Otuke, Kole.
Teso sub-region: Amuria and Katakwi.
West Nile sub-region: Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Nebbi, Yumbe and Zombbo.