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You know how sometimes you do your best, throw yourself fully into the task, use all of your experience but there is still one piece missing? The piece that could complete the puzzle. Well, this was no different to my father. In 2017, after putting his strong foot forward in his vegetable farm, he was able to get more harvests than he did before. But did all the pieces fall into place? I’ll tell you. When he was sharing with me how he felt about that year’s harvest, he said “I am considering throwing away all the harvest because I cannot store it!”. There it goes. My father’s missing piece. Lack of access to markets and adequate postharvest management. Unfortunately, my father is not alone in this challenge for it is faced by most farmers in Uganda.
Fast forward, early this year, I set myself into researching and understanding the root cause for postharvest mismanagement faced by Ugandan farmers. I enrolled in an incubator program on agribusiness run by Imagine Her, and as you guessed it’s a Ugandan-based NGO that provides entrepreneurial and employment training skills to women and youth.
My pieces started falling into place and in June of 2021, I had another opportunity. Attending my first ever AL for Agribusiness Think Tank Webinar in which two accomplished agripreneurs namely, Mbali Nwoko, CEO of Green Terrace (South Africa) and Vera Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Start Right Nutrition Limited (Ghanan) shared their wisdom on building resilience and using challenges for growth. Only if my father had had the opportunity to attend the session. I was star-struck realizing that this was the exact place I needed to be to receive the support system that my father didn’t have access to. Understanding customer needs and building a strong value proposition was among the things I learned.
The network had set me to building my agribusiness, Kasana Food, an agro-processing enterprise in Uganda that is specializing in producing products such as dried fruits and ready-to-cook vegetable spices. Products that are created from local farmers’ harvest, helping them sell 100% of their produce.
But wait, remember we all have a missing piece of the puzzle? Well. I too had that piece. Luckily for me, the AL for Agribusiness Launchpad Pitching Competition was there to save the day. I attended the Agribusiness Launchpad Program, training on how to develop startup business ideas and preparation for the competition at the AL for Agribusiness Annual Gathering. After the 5-week program, learning about customer need and other relevant skills, l was selected at the top 8 entrepreneurs from the program to pitch for the competition. I am proud to announce that l was one of the two winners and l won seed capital. Through the prize money, Kasana Foods will be acquiring dehydrators that will help us tap into more farmers, create more products, and make life better for both the customers and consumers. I feel honored being an AL for Agribusiness network member, and the support I’ve received thus far. I can’t wait to share what’s next! Hopefully, supporting more farmers on their missing pieces.
By Faridah Nalunkuuma, Founder of Kasana Foods and AL for Agribusiness Network Member
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