Uganda’s roadside urban and peri-urban plant nurseries are a unique small-scale business that play a critical role in poverty eradication by acting as green businesses and providing employment to many youth and women. However, their growth and sustainability is threatened by inadequate requisite business management skills and knowledge. To remedy this, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), and the College of Business Management (CoBAMS), Makerere University have embarked on activities to build business management skills and sustainable plant nursery management practices among their owners, operators, and workers. The researchers namely; Dr Edward Nector Mwavu (Principal Investigator), Dr Anthony Tibaingana, Dr Paul Ssegawa, Dr Grace Nakabonge and Ms. Agatha Syofna are working in collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Local Government and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

Dr Edward Mwavu training the roadside plant nursery owners and workers in Kawanda

The activity is intended to enhance profitability of the roadside plant nursery business.

Through their project titled Building business management skills and sustainable practices among urban and peri-urban roadside plant nursery owners, operators and workers for resilient ‘green’ businesses in Greater Kampala, Uganda, the researchers are training roadside farmers on the best plant and business management practices.

The project is supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF).

According to the researchers, building capacity coupled with the provision of access to technical information could greatly help move the nursery businesses from where they are today to where their owners and managers want them to be. Furthermore, the skilling of roadside plant nurseries operators and workers to sustainably manage them as green businesses, is a triple-win strategy since it supports the improvement of livelihoods of many low-income urban and peri-urban households, and boosts plant conservation, urban agriculture as well as forestry development. “If properly managed and maintained these ‘green’ businesses have the potential to fulfil a variety of financial returns,” the researchers advise.

The project fits well within the Presidential Direction of Operational Wealth Creation that promotes skilling of the youth and women who are many in the road-side plant nursery businesses; and contributes to the attainment of Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP III) targets that are preoccupied with plant conservation for sustainable livelihoods.

A nursery bed

To ensure effectiveness of the programme, the researchers are conducting on-site skills transfer often neglected by formal training for the unskilled and semiskilled youth and women.

On 11th November 2021, the researchers led by Dr Mwavu held a meeting with roadside plant nursery owners and workers in Kawanda to assess their challenges and skill them on the best business management practices.

During the interaction the farmers revealed that they were facing a number of challenges that were undermining the productivity of their businesses. These include; seasonal changes, floods, poor quality pesticides, lack of market for their seedlings, water scarcity in dry seasons, plant diseases, expensive seedlings, poor grafting, limited funding to sustain their businesses and evictions.

Ms Kabonesa Bernadette from NARO was one of the trainers

The researchers equipped the farmers with various skills to improve their produce and profitability of their businesses. Specifically, Dr Edward Mwavu, Ms Kabonesa Bernadette from NARO and Ms. Babirye Bridget from the Ministry of Local Government trained the farmers on proper potting, grafting, budding, feeding of plants, treatment and protection of plants from diseases, and methods of controlling soaking in rainy seasons. The farmers were also advised on the best seedlings to plant.

Dr Anthony Tibaingana from the College of Business and Management Sciences, Makerere University trained the farmers on the best business management practices. He urged the farmers to always be mindful of the quality of their products and the market prices. He also urged them to always exercise good customer care and to maintain positive relationships with their customers by providing sufficient information about their products.

The farmers appreciated the trainings, noting that they had acquired knowledge on many things that were undermining their businesses. The called for more support in terms of trainings and funding to improve their businesses.

Compiled by
Hasifa Kabejja

Principal Communication Officer

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