GADC’s business has, thus far, been based on developing agricultural value chains in the post-war areas of Northern Uganda where a significant number of aspiring farmers remained in IDP camps for decades. This idle time contributed to losses in agricultural capital and knowledge.
Therefore, a significant portion of GADC’s extension work has been devoted to training and re-training farmers on good agricultural practices and farming as a business. Since 2009, the company has worked with Danida, Mercy Corps, UNDP, and GIZ to help build this capacity in distinct geographic areas and value chains throughout this region.
However, GADC realized through the company’s extensive history in the cotton sector, that the company would not survive processing cotton alone. Similarly, effectively supporting the grower base requires advocating for diversification. Thus, GADC began trading in sesame, chilies, sunflower and maize.
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 and with a small capital injection, the company revived and took over the COO-ROM ginnery in Gulu to establish agricultural buying and processing operations which have grown organically ever since. The company has expanded to include a second ginnery in Kitgum and is currently active in the cotton, sesame, oil milling and maize milling businesses, while also participating in the chili and sunflower markets. GADC’s
products are sold on national and international markets.
GADC has been profitable in every year of operation as evidenced by audited financial statements and achieved a turnover of nearly USD 10m in 2015. The company employs over 400 permanent and casual employees, nearly all of whom are Ugandan nationals. GADC certifies farmers through Fair for Life for fair trade and Control Union (NL) for organic certification.
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 additionally 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. Across both operations, GADC currently provides training to 75,000 farmers.
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.
Building on its existing infrastructure, GADC aims to continue expanding its value-add activities and its geographic reach over the next 5 years.
In Kitgum, GADC will continue supplying a large quantity of sesame while increasing its cotton volumes. Additionally, GADC has invested in developing the chili supply chain by distributing seed and establishing nurseries. This represents a high-value crop which requires little land and can significantly contribute to increasing the incomes of farmer households.
In Gulu, GADC has operated the West Acholi Cooperative Ginnery for the past 7 years and has recently invested in an oil mill for cotton seed as well as a maize mill. From this maize mill GADC produces high quality maize flour for local and regional markets. The company is currently developing a range of animal feeds using the byproducts of these two mills.
The company will continue to diversify its activities by investing in oil milling equipment to process sunflower seed in Gulu. This will allow GADC to expand its sunflower quantities and directly source another input for animal feed production. Additionally, GADC is currently developing a model for extending basic asset financing services to the grower-base in Kitgum, which will provide year-round revenue for the company while building farmer production capacity.
Geographically, the company is expanding via acquisition of the Rhino Camp Ginnery in West Nile beginning in 2016. GADC plans to train farmers and provide a market for cotton, sesame,sunflower, maize and chilis reaching 60,000 suppliers within 5 years. GADC has previous experience sourcing cotton from this region and is highly optimistic about the prospects of developing this site over the next 5-10 years.