GULU AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Providing market access to smallholder farmers in northern Uganda.
The Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) was established in Uganda in the aftermath of the LRA-instigated war which devastated the Northern region for nearly 20 years.
Under the direction of owner Bruce Robertson, the company revived and took control of the COO-ROM ginnery in Gulu 2009 to establish agricultural buying and value addition operations, which have grown rapidly ever since. The company has since expanded to two further ginneries in Kitgum and Rhino Camp. We are currently active in the cotton, sesame, chilli, sunflower, maize, sorghum, oil milling and maize milling businesses and our conventional and organic products are sold on national and international markets.
The company employs over 400 permanent and casual employees, nearly all of whom are Ugandan nationals.
An integral part of GADC’s business is its unique field network system. The company sources its products from over 80,000 smallholder farmers across Northern Uganda by pre-financing a network of community-based entrepreneurs known as buying agents. Through this field network and its partnerships, GADC provides agricultural extension services and training for farmers on a variety of topics including agronomy, organic principles, post-harvest handling, numeracy, and basic financial literacy. Through this work, we have achieved rapid growth in our own production capacity and have lifted the output of the whole market.
GADC is eager and willing to engage in public-private partnerships to improve the communities and markets it works in through sustainable and impactful concepts.
GADC does not farm itself, but supports and buys crops from small holder farmers. Whilst sesame and cotton processing facilities were available, it was clear that the key barrier to growing crop volumes was poor farming techniques resulting in low yields. GADC began working with donors to develop agronomic training programs. As a company we have a strong partnership base and relations with local government agencies, donors and agro-input and financial service providers to farmers.
Geofrey joined GADC in partnership with Mercy Corps in June 2015. He received several trainings in production techniques, business skills and marketing. He introduced other income generating crops like sesame (simsim), chili, soybean and sunflower under the Transforming Agriculture for Improved Livelihood (TRAIL) project. Geofrey never looked back. He impressed the company by working hard and eventually he was entrusted to become a buying agent. Within the same year, he was pre-financed with 4.7 million UGX, approximately 1342 USD, earning a commission of 1,610,000 UGX, about 460 USD, and was able to buy 1.630 tons of simsim for the company for a period of 4 months.
‘My life as an AC has been an eye opener for me and enabled me to do more than I thought I could at this age. I get a monthly salary, airtime of 10,000 per month and I reached a point where I can satisfactorily provide for my daughter, and other four dependents without any external support. This wasn’t the case before, even better, I constructed an iron sheet roofed house for my mother in Kitgum town’, she said. In 2015, Josephine started farming on 3.25 acres of land. She planted sesame and chili and applied the knowledge and skills of agronomic practice that she passes on to other farmers for both value chains. She harvested about 200 kgs of sesame, sold each kg at 2,000 UGX and earned about 400,000 UGX (119 USD). From another a quarter acre of chili, she earned 263,000 UGX (78 USD).
Since Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) offered me a good business opportunity I decided to work with them. “They trained me on organic farming principles” and latter offered me to work with them as a lead farmer! In 2015
I have been working with Gulu Agricultural Development Company with support from Mercy corps under the program Transforming Agriculture for Improved Livelihood (TRAIL) since 2015, I do not operate on a very large scale, but I am one of their most regular suppliers.
I supply 10 to 20 kgs of chili per harvest, prices fluctuate from Sh 12,000 to Sh9, 000 per kilogramme. On a monthly basis, I make about 240,000sh-400,000sh
Bruce Robertson is the founder and CEO of GADC. Through the company, he invested in northern Uganda in 2009 as it emerged from the murderous reign of the Lord's Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. Bruce has worked with the Ugandan government, cotton farmers, and other ginners for two decades to rebuild the cotton crop after Idi Amin's regime destroyed it. He is a founding member and chairman of the Uganda Ginners and Cotton Exporters' Association, which provides farming inputs to 300,000 cotton farmers. He is a Laureate of the 2017 John P. McNulty Prize, a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative and a moderator for the Aspen Global Leadership Network.