New Vision (Kampala)

21 December 2005

Uganda: Organic Farmers Start Juice, Wine Processing

Kampala — Matilda Mbaziira and several of her children are busy digging in a beautiful banana plantation at their home in Namagoma, Wakiso district.

The plantation is well-mulched with dry grass mixed with animal dung. The three-acre farm also has paw paws, ovacados, cabbages and pineapples. Mbaziira is a member of the Abataka Abaagalana Farmers Group, which practices organic farming.

"We started organic farming about five years ago under the Abataka Abaagalana Farmers' Group," says Charles Kizito, who manages Mbaziira's organic farm.

The group consists of 10 members. To join the group, one pays sh3,000 membership fee annually.

Originally, organic farmers had problems finding markets for their produce, but through sponsors, they have learnt to add value to their produce.

Juice and wine extracted from organically-grown pineapples, passion fruits and bananas is the latest on the Ugandan market.

The juice is produced by farmers funded by Caritas, a charitable Catholic organisation that trains and equips farmers in eight sub-counties in Wakiso and Mpigi districts, where it supports 16 farmers' groups. Caritas receives funding from Misserior, a church-based organisation in Germany.

Misserior started promoting sustainable organic agriculture in Uganda in 1991, through Caritas Kampala, formerly known as the social and economic development department of Kampala Archdiocese.

From Caritas Kampala, organic farming spread to Masaka, Hoima and Kabale diocesses," says Proscovia Nankya, the secretary organising committee of Caritas.

"I was growing crops which were consumed locally at low prices but since I received Caritas' training in 2004, I earn more," says Godfrey Lubwama, the lead processor of organic juice at Namagoma, off Masaka Road.

Lubwama also produces tomato sauce, jam and appetisers.

"I concentrate on the production of wine because it lasts longer than juice and jam which only lasts for six months," he says.

Lubwama is optimistic that his business will get a boost after consumers realise the nutritious value in the organically-produced fruits.

A 750ml bottle of juice can be used to mix seven litres of water whereas a five-litre jerrycan mixes about 49 litres of water.

A 750ml bottle goes for sh5,000 while a jerrycan costs sh30,000.

Lubwama produces two jerrycans of juice and wine a week due to the limited market. He earns sh600,000 annually from the sale of juice and wine.

"Consumers should be told about the nutritious value of our products," he says.

The farmers are marketing the products through organisations like the National Organic Movement of Uganda that set up a mall at Kansanga, Kampala to market organically-produced goods.

"Uganda's organic products are becoming popular. So far, 15 companies export fresh and dried organic produce from Uganda," says Nankya.

She urged the Government to give more protection to the organic sector.

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