Agriculture is a major industry and economic stimulant in Uganda. The sector employs 70% of the country’s working population and over 80% of women. The 3.6 million farms averaging less than 2.5 acres make farm owners’ financial security imperative. However, poor communication and lack of funding for small business owners creates a dichotomy in which individuals contributing to the largest industry cannot get the support they need to achieve financial stability, let alone increased profits. Smallholder producers cannot gain access to insurance because of limited availability and cannot pay for expensive upgrades to equipment such as purchasing new technology and hybrid seeds. These financial obstacles hinder both individual and overall economic growth.
In the past two years, IIRR approached this issue from multiple angles, including increasing the number of tractors and oxen available for hire, raising funds for the Farmer Groups’ Savings and Loans Association, connecting farmers to banks and other financial services, and helping farmers obtain land tenure. The programs reached 10,805 participants in 2018; Ugx 3,941,115,400 (US$1,065,166) went towards the Farmer Groups’ Savings and Loans Association, and some of the financial institutions held loan portfolios of Ugx 293,198,000 (US$79,242). Another 20,000 farmers procured Certificates of Customary Land Ownership and subsequent land tenure through IIRR’s partnerships with The Global Land Tool Network and UN-Habitat in 2019. Supporting the base of Uganda’s largest market will increase efficiency and total market value as individual profits circle back into the economy. These programs have helped thousands in the face of financial disparity and improve recipients’ independence through economic empowerment.