Blog Post

Building Better Bean Value Chains: Evidence from Uganda

Beans play an important role in the diets of rural Ugandans, making up as much as 25 percent of average daily protein intake. They are also an important cash crop within the country, with biofortified beans holding the potential for significant value-added production and income generation. However, this potential is constrained by Uganda’s weak seed systems and uncoordinated value chains, which limit productivity. A recent study in Food Security examines how an agricultural public private partnership (Ag-PPP) named CultiAf has helped start to overcome some of these constraints by increasing collaboration and coordination among key value chain stakeholders.

Ag-PPPs bring together public institutions, private businesses, and civil society actors to address sustainable agricultural development goals. Specifically, CultiAf aimed to increase the production and supply of nutrient-rich bean varieties to be processed into ready-to-eat pre-cooked beans. The members of CultiAf included bean processors, a national seed company, non-governmental organizations, smallholder farmers, and agricultural researchers.  

To accomplish this objective, CultiAf offered several interventions to rural bean producers. The first was credit for improved seed varieties, provided by a private sector actor (Community Enterprises Development Organization, or CEDO) and partially subsidized by Uganda’s National Research Organization (NARO). NARO also offered farmer training in good production practices, while CEDO provided community monitoring and aggregation services.

Another private sector actor, Lasting Solutions Limited, processed the beans produced by CultiAf farmers into pre-cooked beans; by working with this partner, the program was able to guarantee farmers a market for their produce at a pre-negotiated price. This both removed uncertainty for farmers and helped ensure supply for Lasting Solutions. CEDO also provided prefinancing in cash for farmers who needed it; this helped reduce the likelihood that farmers would sell their beans on the side.

Finally, NARO, the Center for International Tropical Agriculture, and the Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance provided Lasting Solutions with research and technical support, which reduced its R&D costs.

All of these interventions were provided singly as well as in bundles and took into account gender issues in the Ugandan bean sector in order to be inclusive of female producers.

Almost 1,000 tons of bean seeds were supplied to 13,503 farmers during CultiAf’s first phase.  The study’s authors found that CultiAf resulted in significantly increased productivity, sales volumes, and shares of marketed output. On average, farmers who participated in the program saw 29 percent higher yields than those who did not. The market contract proved to be the most effective single intervention in terms of productivity gains; however, bundled interventions were more effective than single interventions.

The results show that Ag-PPPs have the potential to improve farmers’ market access and increase productivity and profits for both farmers and processors. The authors suggest that the CultiAf model can be scaled up and modeled for other contexts within Uganda and across Africa south of the Sahara to help drive food system transformation.