By Titus Kakembo
Government has started skilling residents of Kapelebyong to enable them add value to their farm produce as a way of improving their livelihoods.
Under the first phase, over 300 residents are set to benefit in this training. This was after Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) kicked off with training 13 leaders in entrepreneurship.
The trained 13 members of Green Gold Co-operative (GGC) from Kapelebyong are expected to become trainers of other residents as part of government’s efforts to empower rural communities to become job creators and eradicate poverty.
The skills acquired include processing wine from mushrooms and squashing juice out of beetroot, pineapples, watermelon and mangoes.
They also learnt how to make briquettes from garbage. At the UIRI research centre, Jennifer Mayambala, a researcher at the institute, stunned the GGC members with an exhibition of wine, herbs and porridge flour processed from mushrooms.
“Some of these mushrooms like Ganoderma germinate in the wild but are worth a fortune because they are used to make herbs, 500gm could earn you $200 (about sh746,600). The demand is higher than the global supply,” Mayambala said.
The guests were surprised to learn that UIRI offers processors who are beginners with machinery as they buy the raw materials to be used in processing items of their interest.
They continue using the machinery, until they can afford to buy their own and set up processing plants.
UIRI communications officer Gloria Adeti said: “We have a technical section that can make a machine for you here at a pocket-friendly price.”
She added: “The advantage with using locally-designed machines is that when they need repair or spare parts, they can easily be accessible.”
At the pottery section, the trainees were awed by soil used as a raw material to mould cups, plates and precious flower vases.
Job Rwanjuwe, a pottery tutor at UIRI, showed them how to sieve soil and mix it to the desired texture.
The trip to UIRI was a result of a one-day workshop initiated by the education service commissioner, Johnson Malinga, after residents of Kapelebyong asked him for guidance on how to invest the Parish Development Model funds, which they expect.
The one-day training was facilitated by Quality Education Consultants Limited (QECL).
The Kapelebyong residents also toured a section where jewellery was being made from recycled paper and environmentally-friendly paper bags crafted from banana fibre.
In the cosmetics section, lotion was processed from carrots, avocado, sheer nut and watermelon. QECL regional chief executive officer Joseph Opul challenged Kapelebyong residents who include youths, former Arrow Boys and women to tap into the opportunities to improve their livelihood.
“Go to any shop or marketplace and critically look at the stock. Count how many items in stock are produced or manufactured in Kapelebyong. Thereafter, take note that it is time to stop delivering potatoes, sorghum and cereals to the market in their raw form,” Opul noted.
He urged participants to add value to their harvest, especially the 200 acres of watermelon fruits they export to Mombasa in raw form.
“Processing reduces post-harvest waste and boosts income. Processing is diverse and involves cooking, canning, smoking or drying, among other methods used in the processing industry,” Opul said.