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Earlier this month I had the privilege to visit N2Africa activities in the north of Uganda together with Peter Ebanyat (Uganda Country Coordinator), Aron Othieno (Field Liaison Officer) and Connetie Ayesiga (Business Development Officer). Together with World Vision Uganda, our major partner in the region, we visited a number of farmer groups and other stakeholders. N2Africa is working in this region with common beans, groundnut and soyabean. Farmers had a lot of common bean in their fields, largely as a food security crop. Currently there is a lot of excitement around soyabean due to demand from a number of large buyers and it is rapidly becoming a major crop in the region. Soyabean was being harvested, dried and threshed for sale – so as you can imagine much of the discussion revolved around marketing of the crop, processing and storage facilities and above all the price that farmers hoped to receive. The farmer groups are convinced of the value of the new varieties, of need for rhizobial inoculants and fertilizers to boost production. With each group we met the discussion returned to issues of buyers, the need for consolidation of produce, of storage to allow negotiation for better prices, and the cash flow problems the farmers face. The N2Africa partnership approach in which actors along the value chain commit to work together to address these issues is tackling these issues head on. Our partnership with World Vision Uganda extends the reach of N2Africa enormously in northern Uganda and I thank all of their staff for the enthusiastic engagement and the discussions with farmers. Many of the farmer groups have only been established in the past few years through our work, and several are already registered as cooperatives. A very promising sign is that they are diversifying to include other income generating activities both within and beyond agriculture. Also promising is that as in many countries the farmers don’t want more technology demonstrations as they are convinced of the need for the new varieties and inputs. What they do want is access to inputs and markets so that they can scale up the activities.

Left: Members of the Acinango Farmers’ Group, Apac, Uganda in their dazzling uniforms

Right: Presentation of a gift to the N2Africa team from the youngest member of the Acinango Farmers’ Group

This Podcaster carries a number of news items and project updates. We were very sad to learn that David Icishahayo of the University of Zimbabwe had passed away. Many of the N2Africa team met in Harare in March and he was a well-respected member of the legume research community. We also have summaries and links to three important reports related to measuring the impact of N2Africa’s work: a report on the Early Impact Assessment survey conducted towards the end of the first phase; a report on seed diffusion studies that indicates we may seriously underestimate the number of farmers reached by the project; and a report on the structure of N2Africa’s current work and how this can support our learning on issues from performance of rhizobia strains to business models. If you have ideas and feedback please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Ken Giller