For agricultural research to be sustainable, there is a growing need to explore mutually beneficial partnerships between Industry and research. In this regard, NARO held a one-day high-level meeting with the management of Uganda breweries Limited (UBL) to strengthen business relationships by exploring areas of partnership. This partnership was nurtured in a meeting held at Hotel African in November 2020 where NARO engaged various private sector players to articulate issues related to the commercialization of her technologies.
The Director-General- NARO (Dr Agona Ambrose) in his remarks thanked USAID for the continued support and said NARO aims at having strategic partnerships for the transformation of Ugandans and Industrialization. The idea of UBL coming in is an opportunity and not a challenge that management is happy about and looking forward to more formal engagements and commended UBL for supporting local farmers through purchase of locally available raw materials in line with the Governments “BUBU” policy.
The Corporate Affairs Director UBL (Juliana Kaggwa) said it’s really exciting for us to come together with NARO and was looking forward to seeing the relationship go to the next level though it had been affected by COVID-19. UBL currently uses raw materials 80% of which are locally purchased with 20% imported. This however was not the case 10 years ago where 80% of their raw materials were imported.
UBL is interested in the sustainable purchase of locally available raw material and prefers varieties that are high yielding, fast-growing and of high-quality standards targeting smallholder farmers, though at the moment most of the UBL suppliers are commercial farmers. UBL is currently also looking to expand its soft drinks products by 50%; meaning the need for more grain /raw material supply. “We need apple concentrate and need suppliers”. Says Juliana Kaggwa.
USAID Representative at the meeting, Dr Simon Byabagambi said, USAID was committed to working with all the partners and there are many opportunities for success though dependent on how the partnership between NARO & UBL is handled. He emphasized the issue of sustainability even after the end of the current activity.
The discussions centred on registration of imported varieties, contract breeding, Striga management, breeding for mid-altitude adaptation, commercial testing of available materials for brewing, management of generated intellectual property, joint proposal development for product development, aflasafe testing, graduate training and involvement of NARO Zonal Agriculture Research Development Institutes in the multiplication of seed for brewing.