Tag Archives: business

Grains Processing greatly improving in Uganda

Uganda is known for its competitive edge in agriculture. With 70% of the population being engaged in the agriculture industry, one cannot hide away from the fact that there is a lot of money to be made in this regard.

While growing up, I always frequented mills in order to process the maize and sometimes millet that my parents grew. The typical Ugandan mill is a rickety housed old and cranky machine that blows out dust at will leaving anyone in the vicinity with a ghostly look.

I was however taken by surprise recently when I visited Arise and Shine Maize Millers. Tucked away in the Kampala suburb of Kawempe is an ultra modern computerised mill of its own kind. Having specialised in Maize milling, the proprietors have taken time to grow their niche from the very rudimentary processing facilities that are typical of the Ugandan Food Processing industry. 

old_mill

The iron sheet structure old mill (Photo credit – Nabwiso Films)

Having operated for a number of years in a rudimentary fashion, it dawned upon them that there was a need to upgrade their operations to suit the changing times. They had some challenges that needed addressing as well as opportunities to take advantage of like the export market.

The primary challenges were, cleaning, drying, storage and safe food handling. Mr. Matia Mubangizi the Investment and Business Development Manager at the facility noted that, “the biggest challenge in the grains business is storage. Moisture content and impurities cause a lot of loss for the grain dealers and they have to be dealt with.

Armed with this in mind, the company took on the services of a consultant to help address the challenges. This consultant came on board courtesy of support from the Competitive and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP), a project under the Matching Grant Facility, funded by the Government of Uganda and the World Bank.

As a result of the consulting support, the company acquired new machinery with intent to modernise all its operations. They then applied for a Matching Grant Facility entitling them to a 50% reimbursement of expenses towards equipment installation.

This machinery upgrade helped improve the handling of grains thereby reducing aflatoxin presence which is a key impediment for the export market. The deployed equipment involved among others;

  • A weigh bridge

  • A 20 – 25 tonnes per hour drier

  • A cleaner with an hourly capacity of 25 Metric Tonnes

  • A 300 Metric Tonnes storage facility

  • Packaging lines

weigh_bridge

The new weigh bridge (Photo credit – Nabwiso Films)

During my visit to the mill, I witnessed first hand the delivery of maize and how dirty it can be upon arrival. The problem seems to start with the farmers who do so little in terms of proper post harvest handling. As the bags were being emptied, one could see maize cobs, leaves, stones and all sorts of chaff mixed up in the maize. This implies that if the maize miller buys the declared kilos without cleaning, a loss awaits them. It’s on record that Kenya has rejected maize from Uganda on quality grounds.

maize_delivery

Maize Delivery in Progress (Photo credit – Nabwiso Films)

With the new machinery, the maize is taken through an automated cleaner that removes all foreign matter. Once the moisture content of the maize is found to be insufficient, it’s then redirected into a dryer that dries it to the recommended level. This has tremendously increased the product quality of the mill.

part_of_mill

Storage Facilities for the newly installed mill (Photo credit – Nabwiso Films)

A comparison of the production matrix before and after the installation of the new mill reveals drastic progress.

Before

After

  • Used to handle 5 – 6 trucks of maize daily
  • Currently handle upto 30 trucks of maize daily
  • Used to receive 50 – 70 tons of maize daily
  • Currently receive 200 tons of maize daily
  • Supplied local market entirely
  • Currently supplying both local and foreign market

The process improvements as well as new markets have had a positive impact on the production and profitability of the mill. Aspects like automated weighing drastically reduced the turn around time of attending to each delivery truck. The export market was catalysed by the ability to produce premium products that meet international food safety standards.

On the Human Resource front, 30 graduates were invited to participate in the training during the installation of the machinery, upon completion, 11 of them were hired.

Without doubt, the story of Rise and Shine Maize Millers is worth sharing and confirms the potential Uganda has as a country in the value addition of agricultural produce.

James Wire is a Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda
Follow @wirejames on Twitter.
Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

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