By Prossy Nandudu
Researchers at the National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) have embarked on market segmentation aimed at increasing groundnuts production in Uganda.
The segmentation process will identify needs of groundnuts farmers, processors and consumers to be included in the breeding of new groundnuts varieties.
The director of NaSARRI, Dr Michael Ugen, made the disclosure at a one-day groundnuts multi-stakeholders meeting organised by the National Agricultural Research Organisation in partnership, with the Interactional Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) at Royal Suites Bugolobi.
Consumers’ needs ignored
According to Ugen, previously the breeding of new varieties was informed by views of researchers and not of the consumers.
As a result, he explained, the uptake of some varieties has been low and some needs of the consumers have not been taken into consideration.
“For example, previous varieties have less oil compared to the current demand for more needs but preferences differ. Northern and eastern parts of Uganda tend to prefer tan-skinned varieties while in the central region they prefer the red so as to make their dishes look attractive,” he said.
Ugen explained that through the meeting, some of the traits that stakeholders want to see in the new varieties include early maturity, varieties with much oil, varieties for peanut butter production and resistance to droughts and diseases.
His views were re-echoed by Arnold Rwabogo, a peanut processor from Kasese-based RECCO Industries, who wants researchers to consider varieties that are tolerant to aflatoxins.
According to Rwabogo, most of the groundnuts on the market have high amounts of aflatoxins.
For farmers, like Angelus Ochen, their appeal is for researchers to soften the shells of some groundnut varieties, to ease shelling.
“To shell just one bag, it takes two days. The seeds are okay, they are big, but the shell is too hard, in the end you get blisters all over the hands, and yet there are no machines to help us do the shelling. We need groundnuts with softer shells,” Ochen said.
For processors, like Susan Okeny, the demand from research is to increase production to match the current demand.
Imports from Tanzania
Okeny, who processes groundnuts into various products, revealed that they have to rely on imports from Tanzania and other countries to remain in production, because what is produced in Uganda cannot satisfy the demand.
Such views, according to Ugen, will guide research through their market segmentation approach.
The approach is one of the initiatives supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, through CIMMITY, to help a number of African countries addresses food production.
He added that while Uganda wants to address production challenges, other countries are looking out for solutions to pests and diseases, climate change and its effects on production. Participating countries include Senegal, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania.