Agriculture employs an estimated 70 percent of the country’s labor force and accounts for about a quarter of its GDP. But Ugandan smallholders are particularly vulnerable: Rainfall is unpredictable and dry spells can be disastrous for farmers without irrigation systems. Fertilizer use in Uganda is also low, about 9.6 kilograms per hectare annually. This is significantly lower than the 16.2 kilograms per hectare average across sub-Saharan Africa, and the 140 kilograms per hectare average globally.
Grainpulse works closely with smallholders throughout the planting cycle. In addition to a fertilizer-blending factory—the first in Uganda—it also buys crops such as coffee, maize, sorghum, barley and pulses directly from farmers, helping connect them to markets and export, while also reducing their post-harvest losses. Grainpulse’s mill currently produces maize flour to make breads and other staples; the IFC-supported expansion will enable Grainpulse to process maize into animal feed as well. With support from GAFSP, the company also teaches farmers how to prepare land, apply fertilizer, use seeds, and manage diseases and mold like aflatoxin.
The project is expected to boost the company’s reach to an estimated 200,000 smallholders by 2023, up from approximately 20,000— increasing food production and economic growth throughout Uganda. It’s also helping Grainpulse expand to become a “one stop- shop” for farmers, providing them with multiple services, including fertilizer blending, that is optimized to popular local crops.