By Francis Emorut
Over 1,600 women in Luwero district have been empowered with equipment and training to add value to their farm produce.
Makerere University School of Food Technology provided technical support and guidance on the fundamentals of agro-processing, while the National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU) provided processing equipment to help the women add value in enterprises such as apiary, fruit processing, cereals, hibiscus juice and wine production.
The others are matooke, coffee, pineapples, mushrooms and livestock. Monica Emiru Enyou, the executive director of NAWOU, said the project was funded by Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS) and targets women groups, individuals and co-operative societies. It aims at strengthening and realisation of women’s economic rights.
To commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, NAWOU, with funding from FOKUS, gave the women equipment to help them add value to their produce.
“The project seeks to address the causes of women’s economic vulnerability and eliminate all forms of discrimination and abuse against women’s rights,” Emiru said.
She said the project targets over 1,625 women and 325 men in various groups.
The women groups were also empowered with entrepreneurship skills in non-agricultural enterprises such as liquid soap processing, shoe-making, tailoring and charcoal briquette making.
Some of the women groups that benefited from the project included Kawuku Women’s Group, Nkokonjeru Youth PWD groups in Bamunanika sub-county; Tukolere Wamu Kileba Women’s Group in Zirobwe and Kikyusa Development Association of the Blind in Kikyusa town council.
Christine Olyel, a board member of NAWOU, said apiary groups in Luwero had limited skills and knowledge about the business.
“Most of them were using rudimentary methods of production, which affected the quality of the final product,” she said.
The women groups were also given stainless steel tables, bee smokers, beehives, white plastic buckets, wooden pallets, honey harvesting equipment, digital weighing scales, honey refractometers and storage cans, among others.
Edith Nabuule, the chairperson of Kawuku Women’s Group, said her group initially had 15 beehives and were given 257 to boost their productivity.
“Initially, we used to sell unprocessed honey locally, but now we process and pack in nice containers. Our production has increased,” she said.
Rose Kalibakya, another group member, said the packaging of honey improved after the women groups obtained skills and knowledge in food processing. Vincent Ssebagala, the community development officer of Luwero district, said NAWOU’s interventions had enabled women to take care of their families and encouraged women groups to also embrace government programmes such as Emyooga and the Parish Development Model.
Kikyusa Development Association of the Blind received knitting yarn.