Peter van Bussel


Boxtel, Netherlands

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 12 March 2012 at 07:36

The Friendly and Provocative Discussion on Wednesday 14/03/2012 is about what would be the merits of an on line farmers' magazine as a source of information for both existing and potential farmers?

Most Ugandans, especially the youth shun farming. The reasons vary. Some consider it dirty, unprofitable, very risky and a reserve for the uneducated! Yet in truth though, farming can be very profitable and rewarding if it weren't for the lack of knowledge about farming and sheer prejudice! The question is therefore: What would be the merits of an online farmers' magazine as a source of valuable information for both existing and potential farmers most especially a new crop of farmers?

Peter van Bussel

from Andrew Ndawula Kalema, some issues to ponder:

Is it true farmers don't read?
Is true only a  few farmers have access to the internet?
Is true farmers are too poor to afford a newspaper or an internet connection?


What drives online traffic?
Changing new reading habits;

  • Newspaper readership worldwide is declining rapidly.

  • TV/Radio viewership/listenership is declining steadily

  • Website is on the rise worldwide

Online audience build up in Uganda over a decade (2002 – 2010) - 40,000 – 3.2m (Source ITU)
How do we grab that online audience? What works?

  • Stories that run on multiple platforms i.e. Console, mobile and public screen

  • Breaking news and live coverage to keep the reader coming back

  • Background stories and interaction to increase time spent on the page/website

  • Debate and Blogs and material from readers to engage the readers

  • Searchable headlines, adapted to those different formats

  • Strong clear photos, graphics and related video.   

See you at centenary park


Andrew Ndawula Kalema

The Farming Journalist

5 years 10 months ago

Justine Mwanje

An on-line farmers’ magazine is a great idea because it would be a platform for the following:

  1. Provision of news (products, marketing, innovations,      transport, etc);
  2. Sharing of experiences;
  3. Training of farmers;
  4. Storage and management of knowledge and information;
  5. Mobilization and sensitization of farmers.

Five good reasons for such a magazine.

If this done within the APF thematic areas, entrepreneurship would be significantly improved, and the youth would be attracted to farming.

Reference: Participatory Learning and Action (Issue No. 59); available at the IIED website.

Also check out:

5 years 10 months ago

Muhimbise John

The idea of a farmers' magazine is a very good one since the future of this country is in agriculture where we have a comparative advantage. Unfortunately, very few Ugandans have shown interest in agriculture because very little is known about it. Listen to programmes on Radio,TV, coverage in print media and discussions on Social media - It's about sex, entertainment,war,sweet nothings and everything else that doesn't add much value to our lives and economy. In other words we are starved of information about agriculture though we all want to eat vegetables, tomatoes, rice and complain about the cost of these items when prices shoot up! A carefully planned and well thought out online magazine can go a long way in attracting people to agriculture especially if it consistently highlights success stories and gives quality information about modern farming methods,small scale irrigation initiatives,water harvesting,sources of finance and a host of other issues that create awareness and is also persuasive.

An online magazine cannot target a mass market because the majority of Ugandans have no access to the internet for various reasons, and those who currently have,the 3million we are talking about hardly enquire about agriculture. It's therefore important to define your target audience right from the start and work out a strategy to reach them. Once this has been worked out, yopu can design appropriate content and package the message in the best way possible. Remember the whole essence of communicating is 1st Creating awareness, informing, create desire in the process and propel someone to act or adopt.


John Muhimbise

5 years 10 months ago

Hans Petter Lie-Nielsen

I too tend to think an online magazine for farming would be a great idea, but the I don't see a large market for it at the moment. However, if it could provide enough useful information in a way that farmers can make use of the information then the userbase should be growing every day.

Being a web developer by profession, I would love to take part in a further discussions on the topic.

5 years 10 months ago

Muhimbise John

I agree with Hans Petter that there appears to be no market at the moment and if profit is the overriding motive for starting the magazine one is likely to disappointed. Andrew, the initiator, has unmatched passion for agriculture and I believe this is what is motivating him to think of starting a magazine to promote agriculture especially among the youths. I believe it will succeed in the medium and long-term but first steps must be taken now and this requires everyone's support especially members of APF. There is a need to explore possibilities of partnering with commercial farmers who will greatly benefi and lobbying government and other stakeholders who are ultimate benefiaries. I am optimistic that the venture will succeed! it will call for patience and resilience!

5 years 10 months ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 4 February 2012 at 12:01

The Friendly and Provocative Discussion on Wednesday 08/02/2012 is about how to increase the benefits of the on line platform of Agri-Hub Uganda (Ning)?

The number of professionals on the on line Agri-Hub Uganda grew with about 235%; from 307 professional in 2010 to 718 by the end of 2011. The number of announcements increased by more then 300%; from about 90 in 2010 to about 280 in 2011. These figures show that the on line Agri-Hub Uganda has been growing very fast in 2010. The challenge is to sustain this success and even grow further. Therefore:

What are your experiences and how can the on line platform be improved?

Peter van Bussel

Of course you receive most information through your peers and that is also the cheapest way. When they don't have an answer or when you want to verify their information you need to look further. I think that the Ning could be a very good medium.

There are a couple of criteria to successfully provide support services, for example: accessibility, relevance, problem and solution oriented. The later two is what needs to come from ourselves: our sharing of information and knowledge. The first criteria, accessibility, can be done by providing mobile communication and by using existing internet cafes. However, the ning can also be improved e.g.:

  • improved document search; (I have not yet found an easy way to do this.)
  • develop and use more standardised tags;
  • a print option to print news and events announcements, and other information on the ning.

5 years 11 months ago

Kisitu Bruce

What I have gathered Peter is, improve the usability of the ning like search tool, tags and many others. I think these are the things we all need to bring out to help the team develop such a knowledge and information sharing platform that we shall all be proud of.Thanks a lot Peter.

I believe that as long as the platform provides the information and experiences people yearn for, then they will inevitably visit the cafes and use any other communication mechanism to access and share information and knowledge. 

Another food for thought - What about promoting our businesses on the ning, do you think this could be a benefit and could also establish linkages. Am sure many of the organizations and individuals have lots of things to market including expertise. What crosses my mind is if we are marketing our businesses then we have to find a way of supporting the platform to manage this function. Do you think this could be a way of enticing the private sector? These are just thoughts running. 

5 years 11 months ago

Peter van Bussel

Under professionals and organisations you can provide a profile and you can do a search. Professionals even have an advance search. I would propose to improve and expand this.

5 years 11 months ago

Frank Elsdijk

Hey Kisitu,

Thanks for the compliment:-) Sorry for my late reply, did you join the 'live discussion'? How was it?

I was merely pointing out (through the example of organizing a particular training) that you and I and all the members play an active role and we don't necessarily have to wait for others to organize a training, a social event or other initiatives. Of course the facilitation of easy communication through the network and the active sharing of knowledge by the members go together. They activate each other, they need each other.

Would I be willing to pay for extra services? Well that depends, is it something that I need or want, what problem does the service serve for me? What's in it for me? You have to convince me of that before I will invest in your service, you see?

I've been following some internet-marketing guys and they were saying something that you might be interested in before starting an initiative like 'creating an entrepreneurship group' (I don't know if you meant to do that). They were saying most people get it totally wrong.They first create a product, service, training program or something and then they check if somebody out there wants to buy their creation. In fact, they did the opposite. Before even thinking about what product or service to create, they looked for a specific market (not a general one, for if you want to reach everybody, you'll end up reaching nobody), they interacted with the people in those particular markets: trying to figure out what their biggest interest or frustrations and problems were. Also experimenting with offering some free solutions/advice for their problems and at the same time making a human connection with that market. Then they looked for what will make them buy. Only then they created a product or service that they knew would solve some of the problems of people in that market. And as a result of building up a connection with those people and knowing what was valuable to them and what would make them draw their wallets, they made some good money, selling products or services that 'for that particular market' were very valuable.

So what I'm trying to say, that if you, me or any member wishes to offer an extra service that people wold be willing to pay for, first you have to know who your targeting, what they want/ what their problems are and what will make them buy. Then create your product or service. In that sequence.

Easier said than done of course, but after failing one or more times and learning from your mistakes I think you can succeed in making a meaningful contribution.

5 years 11 months ago

Justine Mwanje

First of all, let me solemnly apologize for missing the most recent discussion, even though I had pledged to attend. It was due to reasons beyond my control.

Benefits to members could be increased by doing the following:

  1. A concerted effort by the APF Administrator to upload useful new information from the many other institutional websites in the agricultural sector.
  2. Editing of project documents with the APF network into news features (e.g. workshop proceedings, country developments and managerial decisions).
  3. Initiation of a short bimonthly email digest, to inform members of recent additions and developments – news, resources, discussions,  blog posts, photos and videos.
  4. In the future, contractual requirements for funded APF partners, to share their materials on the ning, may be built in. However, broadening of future contributions by the main actors in the agricultural field is critical.
  5. Standardized tags could be developed for the Delicious platform. Broad tags such as ‘manual”, ‘report”, ‘case study’ should be replaced with geo-specific and context-specific tags, such as ‘Uganda’, ‘finance’, ‘marketing”, etc.
  6. Guidance on how to use the main avenues for contributing written materials to the website, blog and discussion tools, should be provided (this has been done to a certain extent). A “how to use this ning” manual may be added as a featured publication.
  7. The ning should provide for sorting or searching for members by name (alphabetically) or institution, in order to hasten partnerships.
  8. Provision of translation services to members.

5 years 11 months ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 9 December 2011 at 08:07

The Friendly and Provocative Discussion on Wednesday 14/12/2011 is about the impact of agri business support. Moreover, despite the huge amounts of money that have been pumped into Uganda's agri businesses sector in the last decades, the sector is still greatly underdeveloped. Why is this the case when donors and government statistics claim that thousands of farmers have been trained, processing plants have been financed and so on and so on..?

Ndiwalana Fredrick

Which training? What farmers?


If you read the last two national budgets, you would know where the bulk of the money designated for agriculture in Uganda goes- The last two budgets supported agriculture through a credit facility amounting to 30 billion shillings matched equally by participating commercial banks and all the money went into value addition through processing (funding for machinery), warehousing and storage. Crops like wheat, cotton, coffee, tea and milk benefited. How many 'farmers' are able to invest and therefore benefit at this scale? How many farmers are bankable?

In the past two years I have run projects of a commercial scale (over 50 acres) by Ugandan standards in two different districts. I have never benefited from NAADS and that is not because I have not tried! I do not think the technocrats we have in this country are serious about the growth of the agriculture sector. The people to move the sector forward will be those who have a commitment to earn a living and prosper out of personal investments in agriculture. Those willing to pay the price of hard work and patience over a couple of years; with or without external help. Unfortunately, most of these farmers are invisible to those who implement externally funded programs.



6 years 1 month ago

Okumu Bernard Obina

I entirely agree with most of the views presented for the failure of agribusiness in Uganda.  However, I need to add my voice to the same.

Much is talked of farmers being disorganised but I want to go a little deeper on that.  We normally treat all these farmers in generality.  But one should note that there are the entrepreneural poor farmers and the core poor farmers.  There are those who can adapt to changes and cause improvements into the lives of many and also those that are not capable of doing anything and only survive on handout in the form of support provided.  If efforts and policy cannot target the progressive ones then it is very unlikely to develop agribusiness in Uganda.

I do not want to be deceived that we are making any progress.  We are worst off considering the available statistics where the contribution of agriculture to GDP is a paltry 9% from what used to be 51%.  I start by saying that the present farmer groups arrangement are not helping farmers in promoting agribusiness development except in distributing inputs to farmers.  There is no quality control, there is no bulking, there is no collective marketing and no savings or procurement of inputs cheaply by the farmer groups.

The groups are so uncoordinated that there are even no District Apex organization of farmers.  The District Farmer Forums are simply agencies implementing programmes of donors.  Sectoral groupings are few and also weak. 

Weakness of farmers and farmer organizations have left much space for middlemen and processors to dominate the value chain.  If these middlemen and processors were prudent businesspersons, still they would have substantially supported the development of the  agribusiness.  They are simply vendors with no interest in the long term development of the respective value chain they operate in.  They pay the lowest price to farmers, often below the cost of production which subsequently affects production in the following season.  They do not consider the benefit of long term relationship in the businesses.  The fact that there is generally high risk in the sector is known.  One finds that SMEs use processing machines without waranty that easily break down without compensation, etc.  This an area that government needs to subsidize including provision of marketing finance.

It brings me to the issue of financing and implementing the agribusiness programmes.  This is more uncoordinated than ever.  The NGOs and projects operating in the Districts run parallel to the activities of the District Local Governments.  Duplication cannot be avoided.  Fraudulent institutions often use groups and outputs of others to account for their money to their donors.  Cases where sign posts are planted in strangers gardens for purposes of taking photographs for accountabilities are common.  More coordination and integration of NGO activities into the District Development Plan and financing more Local Government oversight into NGO activities is very necessary.

In government, the lead institutions for developing agribusiness are Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries and Ministry of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives and NAADS.  The truth is that in all the past agribusiness development programmes the participation of Ministry of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives has been minimal if any.  The two ministries have not coordinated their work together and so even the funding for agribusiness.  Agribusiness activities cannot be easily mainstreamed into the formal trading system if the two ministries cannot work together.

I cannot end without commenting on the lopsided liberalization policy and general perception of those in government.  Even the World Bank & IMF who sponsored the liberalisation policies do admit that there was error in its implementation because it substantially affected industries, agriculture and economies of LDCs adversely.  One finds that presently even the most liberal economy still protects and supports its agriculture.  In the WTO, negotiation on agriculture is becoming difficult because no country can accept open its agricultural sector like ours in Uganda. So government cannot and should not run away from effectively funding, nurturing and supporting its agricultural sector much more than it is currently doing.

6 years 1 month ago

okiror john stephen


thank you for this very interesting yet painful article. like other members have already commented the best way to improve on the agri business sector in uganda is to reach the farmers through their farmer cooperatives but the challenge is most of this cooperatives don't have the ability especially financially to provide adequate training to their members and also establish the management structures required by the donors as a result donors instead of financing farmer cooperatives end up by pouring money into their umbrella organizations which money ends being used for purchase of expensive vehicles and hire of office accommodation.

the solution is simple strengthen farmer cooperatives at grass root level.

5 years 5 months ago

Susan Nasingura

Hello Everyone am glad to join you.

Thank you for all your comments , I have been impressed and encouraged and am sure am on the right track.

Sorry if am getting off toipc but I need help and advise from all of you.


Am a young lady aged 25yrs. I want to join the agric sector, but my mind is a bit stuck on what am supposed to do first and how am supposed to do it. I have interest in farming and thats why I opted for this though I have not yet started.

I need advise on where to  start from. I will appreciate to hear from you.


I welcome all the questions because am sure there are questions to be answered first.

Thank you , looking forward to your advise.


5 years 4 months ago

Jjemba Wasswa Eddie

I took long to see this but I can still say that "Politics of the donor money" is the reason why Uganda is still sunk into poverty. To make matters worse we give our projects catchy names but do less to match...

5 years 2 weeks ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 8 November 2011 at 10:05

imageThe Friendly and Provocative Discussion on Wednesday 9/11/2011 is about the use of basic terms. Some  say that English words don’t have single meanings as this depends on the context. You also often find different definition or explanation about the same term used in the begin of reports.


For example the IFPRI, Value chains for staple food crops in Uganda: Impediments and options for improvement states "A value chain is composed of activities and services that bring a product from conception to end use in a particular industry." while FIT Uganda for their Pilot's Eye - Handbook access to Markets for Smallholder Farmers adopted a definition from KIT namely “A Value Chain is a specific type of supply chain, one where the chain actors actively seek to support each other so they can increase their efficiency and competitiveness. They invest time, effort and money and build relationships with other actors in order to reach a common goal of satisfying consumer need so they can all increase their profits.” (Un

... Read more

Kelly Wanda in brief, supply chain and value chain flow in opposite directions.  Supply chain is from products and services supplies while value chains represent flow of value from consumers to their suppliers.

6 years 2 months ago

Peter van Bussel You mean that supply chain is about the products and services itself that flow from production towards consumers and value chain is about the money that flows back from consumers to suppliers/producers?

6 years 2 months ago

Peter van Bussel

I found quite some interesting websites and information, below two of them:

1. Introduction; Concepts and Definitions; Literature Review. On page 9 it states: Chains composed of companies (or individuals) that interact to supply goods and services are variously referred to as productive chains, value chains, filières, marketing chains, supply chains, or distribution chains. These concepts vary mainly in their focus on specific products or target markets, in the activity that is emphasized, and in the way in which they have been applied. What they have in common, however, is that they all seek to capture and describe the complex interactions of firms and processes that are needed to create and deliver products to end users. Moreover, they all strive to identify opportunities for and constraints against increasing productivity... “value chain” describes the full range of value-adding activities...“supply chain” is used internationally to encompass every logistical and procedural activity involved in producing and delivering a final product or service, “from the supplier’s supplier to the customer’s customer”...The issue is not so much about which concept is superior or preferable, since they are complementary and their effective implementation can deliver improved business results...practitioners of the supply chain approach often fail to consider to what extent cost reduction and inefficiencies in supply chain logistics actually add value, and if so, who benefits. On the other hand, value chain proponents sometimes forget that effective value chains must rest in efficient supply chains.


2. What is Value Chain Analysis Porter. It includes characteristics of a chain and states "...linkages between activities...are crucial for corporate success. The linkages are flows of information, goods and services, as well as systems and processes for adjusting activities.


6 years 2 months ago

Kelly Wanda

Oh yes.  supply chain looks at all those systems that interact to move a product from one point to another.  value chains sort of put a value to this and this is reflected by how much consumers or buyers are willing to pay for it; they show the value added.  Therefore, value chains try as much as possible to get margins ( gross) but if possible net margins and which value accrues to whom. The two terms therefore look at the same processes but from a sort different angle and emphasis and the implication also is that interventions would sort of vary.

6 years 2 months ago

Kelly Wanda

The value chain describes the full range of activities that firms and individuals do to produce and ship a product from its conception to its end use and beyond. Value chain activities can be contained within a single firm or divided among different firms or within a single geographic area or spread over wider areas cutting across countries. GVCs involve activities that are divided among multiple firms and spread across wide swaths of geographic space. Yes we still have to grapple with commodity value chains within countries here but global value chains are going to be more important in the future given the increasing global population ( now at 7 billion), liberalization and privatisation.  I am a strong believer that we indeed need to integrate african producers and businesses into global value chains.  Models can differ but certainly we need joint ventures between the developed and us.

6 years 2 months ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 17 June 2011 at 10:36

Who has an interesting subject for the next Provocative Discussion?

So far we had three provocative discussions that were very interesting, informative and well attended. The first one was about; Why can’t we work together? The second one: Why is agriculture considered to be the last resort, something for poor people who don't have anything else to do? And the third one: Agri-Business organisations often lack adequate leadership which is a major bottle-neck for their success. If you have a question or issue that you would like to discuss with others please let us know.


Who wants to help to organise the Provocative Discussions?

The discussions are held in a friendly, informal and social environment at the Cafe  Ballet (Nakasero, Kampala). Theyare scheduled every second Wednesday of the months, so the next one is on the 13th of July. Organising these discussions does not take much time. It only involves identifying and selecting a subject, announcing it on the APF and introducing it

... Read more

Muhimbise John

Suggested provocative topic for discussion.

'Uganda's population explosion is not only the biggest threat to food security and food production but also the biggest contributor to rural poverty'. Yet there is hardly any stakeholder that gives it the attention it deserves!

6 years 7 months ago

Macrines Nyapendi I think we should look at 'the different faces of corruption and its 
devastating effects on sustainable agricultural production.'
How  corruption is hindering food production and undermining the efforts 
earmarked to curb food insecurity and malnutrition and Corruption being  the
major driver to arable land grabbing.

6 years 7 months ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 1 June 2011 at 08:19

The article written by Jörg Wiegratz is very interesting as it provides an insight of the effects of Uganda's adoption of the neoliberal reform package that have targeted the reshaping not only of the economy but also of the society and culture. This article is free for you to view until June 30th 2011


Other articles published by Taylor & Francis Group that have been selected to showcase research highlighting Business & Economics relating to the continent of Africa and that are free to view are listed in the attached flyer, which can also be downloaded from




Julius Caesar Ssemyalo

Thank you Peter for this " mind provoking"  article/post to say the least!

On closer observation; overall; more losses than gains?. If it is not too late, there is need for some kind of a re examination process on what is happening inside and around us so as to respond more appropriately from an informed point of view as we head into the future!

These days, Uganda is touted less and less as the "Gem" in Africa in respect to the "neo- liberal reform packages" and related " vibrant political/policy frameworks".

6 years 7 months ago

Posted By in AgriProFocus Uganda
Posted 20 May 2011 at 10:42

Please find attached a write-up of our 2nd Provocative Discussion, 11 May 2011 on Why is agriculture considered to be the last resort.

Our next discussion is scheduled for 8 June 2011, 6 pm at Cafe Ballet.
Any suggestion for a subject is most welcome.

Peter van Bussel


Muhimbise John Some good work! This is what we discussed but regarding uncontrollable population growth we recommended that more money be invested in Family planning programmes. We also said the media - Newspapers, FM Radios etc can play a big role in senstising the people especially the rural areas about the disadvantages of having children they can neither support or feed.

6 years 8 months ago