Africa / ASSP / CGIAR / East Africa / ILRI / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-FISH / Partnership / Pigs / PIL / Uganda / Value Chains

Partnerships pay off for Uganda value chain project

The CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program aims to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world.

Its approach combines technology development in areas like animal genetics and feeding with transformation of selected livestock and fish value chains, such as smallholder pigs in Uganda and smallholder dairy in Tanzania. Partnerships – with governments, national research, civil society and the private sector – are key to achieving its aims.

In each of the countries where the Program works, these partnerships provided critical inputs at different stages of design and implementation. In its Uganda smallholder value chain, for instance, the Program could not have achieved most of its objectives without the support that partnerships offer. This has been in the form of technical and financial support, human resources, infrastructure and knowledge sharing.

Generally, while some partners were constant throughout the implementation period, specialized partnerships were also formed at different phases of implementation. This post illustrates this using the example of the Program’s smallholder pig value chain transformation work in Uganda.

Starting in 2012, the Program’s IFAD, and later Irish Aid, supported pig value chain development work in Uganda followed an iterative process with distinct elements, often implemented in parallel, as set out below.

  1. Program scoping and engagement – From the beginning, and through regular stakeholder meetings, the Program linked with strategic research and development partners and sought to involve stakeholders in regular engagement.
  2. Visioning – With key partners, developing a common vision, theory of change and impact pathways for the joint value chain transformation efforts
  3. Site selection – Working closely with local partners and expertise, the Program identified specific locations and communities where research for development assessments and interventions would be centred.
  4. Situation diagnosis – With key partners, the Program carried out rapid value chain assessments and national situational analyses of the specific value chain, including reviews of past research and development successes and failures.
  5. ‘Best bet’ interventions – With key partners, the Program drew on the value chain assessment and benchmarking exercises, including ex-ante assessments (using ‘best-bet protocols’), to prioritize technical and institutional opportunities and interventions, and drawing up technology and capacity development agenda’s. After prioritization, the best-bet packages were trialled and monitored, often with local partners to understand the conditions under which interventions could really generate outcomes at wider scales.
  6. Scaling – The Program worked with a range of development partners to translate the tried and tested ‘best bet’ interventions into development interventions at scale.

Partnering in practice

  1. Program scoping and engagement
Mapping the partner landscape

Mapping the partner landscape

From the beginning, the smallholder pig value chain development work drew partners from research and academia (Makerere University, NALIRRI[1]), local government (Masaka, Mukono, Lira, Hoima, Kamuli districts), non-government organisations (VEDCO[2], VWB[3], ISU[4] Uganda Program, SNV), central government (Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries) as well as private sector entities ([5]PPM, FarmGain Africa). These and many others were engaged at the start of the project and have participated in many of the project’s activities (outcome mapping, impact pathway, value chain assessment and feedback, review and planning workshops). A key outcome of this engagement was the birth of the pig multi-stakeholder platform that arose from the need for greater visibility of the pig value chain as expressed by the partners at the impact pathways workshop. The platform connects the various actors and stakeholders and facilitates information sharing, joint projects and advocacy to central government and other policy processes.

  1. Visioning

To achieve ownership and a shared vision of where the pig value chain ought to be, the Program involved partners in a visioning exercise during the outcome mapping workshop in 2012. The value chain vision statement identified by participants is: “empowered and efficient smallholder pig producers with increased productivity, having equitable access to markets, information, knowledge, improved technologies, and inputs for sustainable and resilient livelihoods in Uganda by 2023”.

  1. Site selection
Outcome mapping and site selection, October 2012

Outcome mapping and site selection, October 2012

In 2012, during the selection of potential sites for the pig value chain work in Uganda, Geographic Information System characterization was used, basing on pig population densities and poverty levels, together with stakeholder consultations. Partners validated the selection and identified other criteria for site selection. These partners included representatives of the local governments of Kayunga, Mukono, Bukedea, Kumi, Soroti, Tororo, Kasese, Hoima, Kibaale and Kabarole districts. At the end of this consultative process, Kamuli, Mukono and Masaka districts were selected as project sites for the inaugural smallholder pig value chain development project, which was funded by IFAD/European Union. In 2013, following a similar process, Hoima and Lira districts were added to the project sites for the follow-on Irish Aid-funded MorePORK project.

  1. Situation diagnosis
Village level value chain assessment

Village level value chain assessment

Prior to launching any major interventions, in 2012/13, ILRI conducted rapid value chain assessments (VCA) and situation analyses in collaboration with the local partners.

Following the diagnostic assessments, key constraints and opportunities facing small holder pig producers and other value chain actors were identified.

Constraints included animal health issues (diseases and parasites), production and marketing challenges (expensive and low quality feeds, low price offered for pigs/pork, expensive inputs), poor slaughter and waste management, low visibility of the sector, among others. These guided the selection of best bet interventions.

  1. ‘Best bet’ interventions
Partners assessing results and identifying best bets, 2013

Partners assessing results and identifying best bets, 2013

Best bet intervention selection was mainly done through participatory processes with stakeholders. In 2013, VCA feedback meetings were held with partners at district level, and potential best bet interventions identified. The identified interventions were also presented to farmers and value chain actors at village level during feedback sessions for validation. In Lira and Hoima (districts that were later selected as part of the Irish Aid funded project) the best bet selection protocols were applied with stakeholders during feedback meetings.  Success and failure reports also informed the selection and design of some of the interventions.

Interventions such as the pig business hub model was pilot tested in Masaka district with two pig farmer cooperatives. Farmer capacity building in business and enterprise development was conducted hand in hand with the business hub model. Other best bet interventions tested included African Swine Fever biosecurity protocols, using alternative local feeds for pigs, pig slaughter, and food safety. Each of these typically involved different partners.

  1. Scaling

Whatsapp group connects stakeholders

Some of the Program’s research interventions have been adopted and scaled up by local partners. Pig Production and Marketing (PPM) Uganda Ltd, a private firm that provides advisory and marketing services to small and medium-scale pig producers has systematically used the Program’s training materials in its courses. The pig multi-stakeholder platforms in the greater Masaka and eastern regions of Uganda were used for learning and to scale out feeds intervention (sweetpotato silage based diets) by an IFAD/EU-supported development project of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

These scaling efforts have been greatly supported and accelerated by efforts to strengthen the capacities of the local partners. Engaging different partners in a sustained way over the life of the projects, and taking account of their interests helped make the joint ventures scalable and sustainable. The communication, engagement and platforms further played an important role in orienting all the partners on what is taking place on the ground and how best their interventions can be deployed.

Partnering case stories

The steps above outline the general process and the roles of partners at different stages. Here we also illustrate two specific examples of partnerships in a bit more depth.  The first is about the ‘retail’ node of the value chain that is often overlooked in more production-focused value chain work and where new types of partners had to be found. The second is about the Program’s partnerships with local government, critical in the smallholder value chain, but again often overlooked by research for development efforts that are more comfortable with central government partners.

Improving pork handling and safety at the retail node

One key challenge identified by stakeholders during the pig value chain assessments was the absence of centralised pig slaughter facilities in rural and urban areas. This potentially exposes consumers to contaminated and unsafe pork. Furthermore, unregulated slaughtering coupled with poor pork handling practices increase the risks from zoonotic diseases and pose waste management challenges.

To mitigate this, ILRI worked with Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB)and district governments to strengthen the skills of butchers and pig traders through training in proper pork handling and pig slaughter. In 2016, as part of this collaboration, a team of students from the United States trained 47 butchers in Mukono district. The team also refurbished a local butchery, transforming it into a model that local butchers could learn from to improve their own pork sale outlets. On their return to the US, the students raised $2,400 to purchase chopping boards for the trained butchers to help them uplift their pork handling and safety standards. All these expenses were met by VWB-US while ILRI provided staff time for monitoring and technical backstopping. VWB-US also steered the compilation of extension information materials on African Swine Fever (ASF) detection and prevention and these were translated into three local languages (Luganda, Runyoro and Luo) and are currently  being used by farmers (in Masaka and Lira), butchers (Mukono) and traders (Masaka, Mukono and Lira and at the Wambizzi abattoir). The manuals are also being used by PPM (U) Ltd, a local company and partner in the Program that provides training to pig producers and traders and actively engages in a ‘WhatsApp’ chat group for pig producers and value chain actors.

Engaging local governments

In Masaka district, ILRI is working with the local government to set up a centralised slaughter place or abattoir. The district administration allocated land to construct the municipal abattoir and committed financial and human resources in form of budgetary allocation and the district Engineer’s staff time to the project. On its part, ILRI recruited two consultants to develop a business plan and optimal structural design for the abattoir. With land, plans and strong buy-in from local producers, ILRI and the district government are engaging central government and foreign partners to secure the necessary financing to build the abattoir.

In Mukono district, ILRI partnered with the local government to build pig producers’ capacities to undertake profitable pig production. Following an outbreak of ASF that threatened to wipe out a huge portion of the district’s pig population, the Mukono District local government procured piglets to distribute to 110 smallholder farmers in 6 sub-counties. It partnered with ILRI to train the recipients on pig production, parasite and disease control as well as business planning and marketing as a way of equipping them with relevant skills to avoid past mistakes. Most of the course content came from the training manuals developed by ILRI with other partners. ILRI staff also worked with the local government to ensure that the piglets procured met criteria set by the District Veterinary Office. Local extension staff in the district were trained to monitor and support the farmers and their pig enterprises.


[1] National Livestock Resources Research Institute,
[2] Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns
[3] Veterinarians Without Borders
[4] Iowa State University
[5] Pig Production and Marketing (PPM) Uganda Ltd


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