Why the Ford Foundation is Supporting an Organic Farming Push in Africa

The organic food movement is well established in developed countries. In the U.S., it could scarcely be considered a "movement" anymore since you can find organic food anywhere from your local farmer’s market to your neighborhood grocery store. But organic food in Uganda? Well, now there's a movement—and one that the Ford Foundation is supporting.   

Ford recently awarded the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) a $155,000 grant to help the organization scale up. NOGAMU has actually been around since 2003, founded with a small staff of just two people operating out of an office in central Uganda. Initially servicing central Uganda, NOGAMU has since grown to provide training, marketing, policy and advocacy support throughout the country. The membership organization is open to individuals, farmers’ organizations, export companies, and NGOs.

NOGAMU lends its support to mainly smallholder farmers who are looking to take advantage of the global organic food market. Since 2003, membership has increased to include over 300 corporations representing over 200,000 smallholder farmers. Talk about movement!

One of the main tasks NOGAMU has set out to accomplish is to build coordinated efforts between smallholder farmers and other organic industry stakeholders including government agencies, corporations, and export companies. It's done that by forming public-private partnership agreements among farmers associations, NGOs, and government agencies. Through its work, NOGAMU has helped raise Ugandan organic farmers’ household incomes and contributed to an increase in the national income.

Now, NOGAMU is looking to grow even more.

NOGAMU plans to use the grant from the Ford Foundation to expand organic horticulture value chains. This involves creating value for every step in the organic horticulture value chain from improving production to providing post-sale support. For Ford and NOGAMU, these activities will help to develop the social inclusion of smallholder farmers in the premium organic food markets. And there’s a great deal of export opportunity in the organic food industry. In the U.S. alone organic food sales are estimated at around $30 billion annually.

Why does Ford see itself as having a dog in this fight? Because among its key goals is reducing poverty in poor rural areas, and one great way to do that is to help small farmers make more money. 

Related: Ford Foundation: Grants for Global Development