9 August 2005

Uganda: Brewing Wine From Pawpaw And Hibiscus

Kampala — "MY cherished dream has come true at last. Safinah, this has been my argument all along that one day someone would brew wine out of pawpaws," a young man told his wife during the recent Gatsby Small Scale industrial exhibitors show at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) grounds.

The couple had come to one Tanzanian Gatsby stall exhibiting wines brewed from pawpaw, Roselle Hibiscus, Sabdariffa (Hibiscus) and banana.

Imelda Rugaimukama, managing director, Tan Natural Company a subsidiary of Kunduchi Natural Food Products says she began brewing pawpaw wine called Akiviini in 2001.

Tan Natural is a small-scale company specialising in food processing. The firm is registered and located in Kunduchi, Dar es Salaam.

Akaviini is a medium-sweet wine, 100% pawpaw fruit with an alcohol content of 12.5%. This unique pawpaw wine is made from the finest selection of the ripe-red tropical pawpaw (Papaya) fruit. The fruits are cultivated in one of the famous and most historical area of Bagamoyo.

"I got the idea when I visited a pub in Kagera town in Tanzania. The pub used to serve pawpaw wine. I immediately requested them to teach me how to brew wine from the pawpaw fruit," she says.

The Small-scale Industrial Development Organisation (SIDO) also contributed to her three-month training.

"My initial interest was brewing wine from banana but because of abundance of pawpaws on my two acres and to the many farmers near my home area, Kunduchi near Mtongani, Dar es Salaam, I had no alternative but to learn how to brew it," says Rugaimukama.

Roselle sweet red wine is brewed from hibiscus with an alcohol content of 7%. Hibiscus is cultivated in central Tanzania and the coast region.

Tanqueen, a medium sweet wine, is brewed from ripe banana (Kigoje) grown in the tropical African climate on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and areas west of Lake Victoria and Morogoro in Tanzania. It has an alcohol content of 10%.

This plant can be used fresh or dried. Its medicinal properties can be used to lower blood pressure, aid kidney function, treat constipation, liver disorder, colds, sore throats, coughing, fever, blocked nose, astringent and acne. It can also increase haemoglobin in anaemic patients and stimulates appetite.

Rugaimukama says it has also been strongly suggested by researchers that hibiscus extract could be useful in the prevention and possible treatment of a number of cardiovascular (heart) diseases in which cholesterol plays a major role.

Cholesterol is fat in the arteries caused by eating animal products such as meat, eggs, oil and milk products.

Other products she makes are hibiscus that is dried Roselle. This swollen red calyces of the sabdariffa type is not only beautiful and medicinal but also edible.

"Hibiscus is high in vitamin C. It is also rich in pectin and citric acid. It's valuable in processing jams, jellies, ice-creams and can be used as flavour," explains Rugaimukama.

The calyces of the sabdariffa hibiscus flowers are dried and brewed in herbal teas and juices as flavour. It might be used as syrup or cordial made from chopped fresh calyces.

Its success seems to stem from its high content of antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols that are also beneficial to the heart. It has also dark pigments that are also antioxidants and generally considered anti-carcinogenic.

Antioxidants are said to help prevent damages caused by free radicals, unstable cell-damaging molecules that have been linked to the development of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson disease.

Rugaimukama says the company is registered under Tanzanian Food Processors Association (TFPA). "In Tanzania, you cannot start brewing without putting up a cottage industry.

The Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) does not permit it. However, it took me two years to put up one and I went into official production in 2003," she says.

The company employs seven full-time staff. But during the peak period, it employs many casual labourers. This is a family business. I am married and a mother of three children. The vision of the company is to become a leader in production of food and beverages in Dar es Salaam and neighbouring regions by 2007.

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