The influence of partnerships in enhancing functionality of one stop center association –(OSCA) rice value chains in Uganda
Government and Non-Government organizations in Uganda promote partnerships in farmer organizations as a strategy for improving value chain functionality. The right partnerships connect small holder farmers to agricultural services. Functional partnerships that benefit smallholder farmers, however remain a challenge, hence constraints of access to agro-inputs, extension services and markets (MAAIF, 2019). The OSCA approach piloted in Uganda by Sasakawa Global 2000 and MAAIF is a model to operationalize partnerships of smallholder farmers and private sector agencies to enhance farmer access to services and empower farmers to effectively participate in commodity value chains. Whereas this model shows signs of success, there are several challenges in processes of establishing and operationalizing partnerships in OSCAs. In particular, mechanisms for partnership formation, information sharing and enhancing farmer participation in key OSCAs activities. But how to make this happen is not well known (Rwelamira, 2015) and thus difficult to systematically scale-up the OSCA model. This study sought to illuminate blurred areas using rice value chain oriented OSCAs of BAIDA and ZAABTA. Rice is one of the national priority commercial crop (NDPIII, 2021) with forward and backward linkages, creating necessity for partnership with a wide range of actors. This presents an appropriate context for assessing functionality of partnerships. The overall purpose of the study is to provide information for enhancement functionality and scaling up of the OSCA approach/model. Data were collected from Bugiri Agribusiness Institutional Development Association (BAIDA) in Bugiri and Zirobwe Agali Awamu Agribusiness Training Association (ZAABTA) in Luwero district. Check lists were used for focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Forty -four (44) focus group interviews were conducted (16 for OSCA partnerships (8 at ZAABTA and 8 BAIDA), 14 for information sharing (7 ZAABTA and 7 BAIDA), 14 for smallholder farmer participation (7 ZAABTA and 7 BAIDA). Average attendance was six members per group respectively. Interviews were conducted for 23 key informants, data were organized using QSR Nvivo 12 software, analyzed using thematic and content analysis. The study reveals that functionality is enabled by inclusive smallholder farmer engagement in identifying right partners to match their needs and empower them to bargain for their interests in partnerships. The study showed that information flow among the partners enhances trust, transparency and motivates smallholder farmers to pool resources for functionality of the value chain to implement value chain activities.