October 26, 2017

Helping Farmers Rebuild After Civil War Isn’t Charity; It’s Good Business

by Bruce Robertson, 2017 McNulty Prize Laureate
Bruce Robertson explains how his agribusiness invested heavily in Northern Uganda—a region left devastated by the Lord's Resistance Army—not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it benefits everyone.

Bruce_headshot.png#asset:977As an agribusiness owner in rural Africa, I hear silver bullet solutions promising to transform rural economies all the time. Bio-technologies, digital miracles, financial wizardry, flooding villages with money, wonder drugs, the list is long. The farther away the author is, the more optimistic and all-encompassing the solution. Yet, in my 22 years of operating in Uganda, I have seen no evidence of quick fixes.

But rural economies can be transformed and people’s lives enriched on a large scale. What it takes is donor collaboration and a concerted, consistent engagement with farmers and communities. The Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) story illustrates the enormous potential to improve rural lives when donors and business collaborate.

From 1995 to 2006, northern Uganda was one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army invaded villages, killed adults and abducted children as slaves and soldiers. Their activities were pervasive; no village or farmer was safe...

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