Investing in food processing as women

  • 21st June 2017
  • by secretary

20 June 2017. Brussels. International Forum on Women and Trade. Event organised by the European Commission and the International Trade Center (ITC).

Interview with Pamela Anyoti Peronaci, Managing Director Sunshine Agro Products Ltd

Pamela’s first efforts to help the less privileged back home began in 1994 while in Japan when she launched an NGO to support her former primary school in Lalle Village – Soroti District. Through her efforts, enrollment grew from 182 to 1200 students, but still, with more than 70% of the rural population depending on farming and living on less than US$2 a day, she felt she could do more.

“That experience and my work at the FAO were critical building blocks for my vision of moving farmers from subsistence and dependency to ‘farming as a business’. I needed to create a complete production value chain so they could have sustainable incomes. As an agricultural economist, I embarked on developing my business skills and I teamed up with an investor and business mentor, Avigdor Hachamoff, [Ex-Director of Interflour Limited] who had 40 years’ experience in the agri-biz sector and together we established Sunshine Agro Products Ltd,” 

That was 2007. Starting with 15 widowed farmers, Sunshine’s goal was to create sustainable farming in rural Uganda by giving farmers farm inputs, seeds, training in good agricultural practices and then buying back their crops for guaranteed resale in international markets. In the decade since, they have signed contracts with 10,000 farmers and have expanded from chilli production to 31 types of healthy herbal teas and cocoa. Probably the biggest achievement for Sunshine has been the creation of its own brand.

“In order to get better prices for our farmers, and respond to the consumer demand for healthy organic, natural and ethical products, we created Asante Mama signature brand to market herbal tea, spices and cocoa products ‘from farm to table’ directly. Asante Mama means ‘thank you mother’ in Swahili. We chose this name because farmers were always telling me ‘thank you mama’, but also because we are all thankful to the land that gives us these wonderful crops.”

Pamela answers following questions:

  • How difficult is it for a women to invest in food processing?
  • How important is it to collaborate with research?
  • Do you need international expertise?
  • What were the main difficulties?