Who we are
Over the past 17 years, Kilimo Trust has built a solid reputation as a reliable partner for sustainable market-led agricultural development in the East African region. With headquarters in Uganda, and affiliated subsidiaries in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, Kilimo Trust maintains a lean operations team, choosing to work through partnerships with local and regional actors for efficiency.
In each of the East African countries, the agriculture sector employs over 70 percent of the population. However, the contribution of this sector to GDP is no more than 30 percent across all those economies. Kilimo Trust is committed to addressing this and other sector challenges by structuring national and regional trade in agricultural products in support of its mission to make agribusiness a transformative tool for wealth creation, food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers and value chain actors.
Kilimo Trust relies on the support of its funding partners and implementing partners (public and private), as well as the guidance of its Board of Trustees and the Management to realize the grand vision of a sustained and equitable wealth creation, food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers and other value chain actors. Our core values: Value for money, Partnerships, Teamwork, Empathy and Integrity are the bedrock of our operations.
How it started
Kilimo Trust started its operations in East Africa in 2005 as a research entity and grant-giving organization to support research that connected science with farmers. At that time, the Trust was funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GCF) which was founded by Lord David Sainsbury in 1967 to support multiple projects in Africa and Asia.
Between 2005 and 2010, with funding of over US$13 million, Kilimo Trust supported farmer institutions, government research organizations like the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda, processors, civil society organizations (CSOs), and financial institutions in the five East African Community (EAC) member states. We also supported about 50 projects on research, testing approach for financing, how to support market access, and various other projects.
Change and growth
In 2011, our focus changed from giving grants for research to implementing projects along the commodity value chain. We leveraged our experience and expertise in value chain transformation and transitioned to a direct implementer. This was to better serve the region’s smallholder farmers and other agricultural value chain actors, helping them become key players in local, national, and regional value chains.
The core approach to the work at Kilimo Trust became known as the Consortium Approach to Value Chain Development that was piloted in 2012 in Uganda with funding from UNDP and later scaled out in Tanzania with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Germany’s Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (2013 -2017).
The CARI project changed the landscape of rice farming in Tanzania, specifically in the Southern Highlands of Mbeya, Shinyanga and Songwe. They moved away from rudimentary farming techniques which resulted in low yields to high production and improved quality of life. The project validated the business model that the organization employs in all its projects in East Africa.
Through the Consortium Approach to Value Chain Development Model, Kilimo Trust has in numerous regional projects solved the challenge of unreliable markets, poor quality produce, and financial illiteracy through generation of accurate market/value chain information, training, business linkages, including partnerships with state and non-state actors. Kilimo Trust has also championed youth empowerment and capacity-built farmer institutions.
Overall, since 2011 to 2021, Kilimo Trust has conducted over 75 market and value chain studies and supported directly through interventions 548,322 smallholder farmers. Through structured trade, we have facilitated the trade of over 664,254 metric tons of food staples worth USD $284 million and created 360 business linkages. We have also leveraged about USD $63 million from the private and public sector partners and created over 3000 jobs. Kilimo Trust interventions have also seen 150 high potential SMEs (including 22 youth and 18 women-owned agribusinesses) nurtured and linked to growth capital and markets.
Since 2018, our strategic goal by the year 2023 is to directly impact 500,000 smallholder farmers. To achieve this goal, we shall continue to use the framework and strategy that is aligned to six sustainable development goals (SDGs): No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, and Climate Action.
Within the short term, we intend to pursue digitalization in agriculture for efficiency and development of agricultural value chains. We will also continue to explore new growth frontiers in the nexus between food, nutrition, health and renewable energy for sustainability and growth. The inclusion of youth in agriculture remains an ongoing aspect of our interventions as they are integral in advancing the mission of Kilimo Trust of transforming lives through agribusiness.