Mak-RIF project unveils Uganda’s potential to process powdered and liquid eggs for domestic and international market

Makerere University Special Mak-RIF COVID researchers have come up with interventions for government, Public Private Partners and Private investors to make egg production in Uganda more feasible and profitable.

Project team, Dr. Rosemary Isoto, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Ms. Carol Kamugira and Ms. Noreen

The project team has produced a comprehensive report, a business plan based on the research findings that will be a guide for investors who would like to make capital investments in egg processing plants and a policy brief entailing policy interventions and options for the egg industry.

The proposed method of operation for Government interventions entailed;- Conducive tax regimes, Financing mechanisms, Enforceable standards and Targeted extension services .

The proposed method of operation for Public private investments were Financing of capital investments, Export expansion, Consumer education, Enhancing  bio-security measures, Collective action, Targeted extension services and Youth platforms.

The Private investment calls for Investments in improved technology and buffer stocks, Innovations in processed egg uses and contract egg production.

The recommendations were made during the blended online and face to face research dissemination workshop for the study titled, Exploring Egg Processing as a Sustainable Market Solution for Ugandan Poultry Farmers During and Post Covid-19 Pandemic” held on 14th October 2020 at the Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering.  30 key stakeholders including, policy makers, farmers, academia, and other stakeholders participated and another 50 stakeholders via the webinar.

The study was spurred by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019 and associated restrictions which disrupted the agriculture value chains including the egg value chain. For the egg value chain in particular, alternatives such as processing channels to add value and increase the shelf life of the shell eggs to absorb the excess supply were limited.

The study was funded by the Government of Uganda at an estimated budget of UGX 60 million through the Mak-RIF to support government initiatives to fight COVID-19 pandemic and to specifically address the need of the Ugandan poultry farmers who were greatly affected during the lock down period.

The objectives of the study were: 1) To characterize and profile the egg producers as well as assess the trends in egg production in Uganda; 2) Understand challenges and opportunities in the egg value chain and propose possible solutions; 3) To understand the current marketing channels for eggs and; 4) To assess the profitability of egg processing in the Ugandan context

The Research Team was composed of four namely: Dr. Rosemary Emegu Isoto (PI, CAES); Prof. Bernard Bashaahsa (Co-PI  and Principal, CAES); Ms. Caroline Kamugira (RIF, CAES) and Noreen Munabi Nkuraija (CAES).

After four months of the research work, the project team in conjunction with the Makerere Research and Innovation Fund held a dissemination workshop with the objective of sharing and discussing with stakeholders, key findings from the project research.

The workshop was officially opened by the Deputy Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Assoc. Prof.  Gorettie Nabanoga as the Chief Guest.

Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga making her opening remarks

Dr. Nabanoga welcomed participants to the workshop to witness another important ant dissemination workshop in the CAES saying, the college has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the projects sponsored by government.

“I congratulate the project PIs Dr. Rosemary Isoto and Prof. Bernard Bashaasha for having won this grant and for thoughtfully crafting a research program that is very key to the nation. The country and the entire world was facing a tough period when people are experiencing the abnormal conditions.

 COVID pandemic is real and affecting many economic activities. This research project was aimed at addressing some of the challenges the population was facing during the COVID 19 shock. The project comes in handy to profile activities of poultry farmers affected by the pandemic”, Dr. Nabanoga said.

She said the affected industry of poultry, environmental protection is the industry where CAES as   a college subscribes to noting that the project comes in to help those who have been involved in the marketing to ensure sustainability.

Dr. Nabanoga said, the day’s event was meant to listen of what had come out of the research that has been done knowing that relatives, friends have been producing eggs that are not marketed effectively with a question of how better it can be done.

She thanked the PIs for hatching the idea and for the effort so far leading to the organization of the dissemination workshop. She also appreciated the GOU for the support provided to the university and the RIF secretariat for supporting the researchers.

Using the online platform, the Dean School of Agricultural Sciences Prof. Johnny Mugisha expressed pride in the research team for having won the grant saying, it raises the department, school and the college flag high and also gives courage to staff  who never responded to the COVID call.

“It is a pleasure that the project focused on the immediate farmer’s problems and more important on small scale farmers. Egg production is categorized as a small scale business enterprise with small capital and therefore, any initiative to add value to the business would go a long way to impact on many livelihoods. Egg processing comes in handy in times of the COVID shock when farmer’s income were grossly affected and would open up to new sustainable and profitable ventures” Prof. Mugisha said.

Speaking via zoom, the representative of the Grants Management Committee (GMC) Dr. Zahara Nampewo reported that the GMC has been overseeing the Mak – RIF funds starting with the FY 2019/2020 and that in its second FY, the committee was able to support projects working around COVID 19.

“I congratulate the research team for choosing to support the poultry sector and the university research agenda.  Makerere university aims at being a research-led university in Africa and when research of this nature is undertaken, the feel is towards the objectives”, Dr, Nampewo stated.

Dr. Nampewo expressed happiness that this project focus supports the National Development Plan III of government that was launched recently.

She explained that that the RIF was set up mostly to support research interests for the GoU adding that the goal of NDP III is to increase innovation, value addition and agro industrialization for commercialization and job creation.

“This project is important because it supports the government agro industrialization and I am  hopeful that egg processing will improve the quality of Ugandan lives by putting a new product on the market, increase commercialization and competitiveness in agriculture as well as value addition”. Dr. Nampewo said.

She congratulated the project team for the initiative and the GoU for supporting this kind of research imploring   the project team to replicate the efforts started  to generate and  multiply the efforts countrywide so that the knowledge is shared beyond Makerere university.

Dr. Nampewo thanked the Mak-RIF secretariat for putting this together noting that, it is very important to disseminate and show the world what the university has come up with. She also thanked researchers for the effort and the time put   in this work and for being able to complete in time.

The project Manager Mak-RIF Secretariat Ms. Carol Kamugira said in the last FY, Makerere university received UGX 30bn  and the first call was made; and that when the COVID pandemic came, RIF secretariat made a call asking researchers for fast COVID interventions to address its impacts.

She explained that these were short grants taking 3-4 months when they are expected to have the outputs.

“The COVID call was an emergency one and was curved from that money received. There was an outcry from farmers in Uganda and one of the grantees Dr. Rosemary Isoto and her team was selected to tackle the issues of poultry farmers in relation to egg production”, Ms. Kamugira said.

She reported that out of hundred beneficiaries of the special COVID call, 8 beneficiaries were from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She appreciated the GOU for seeing the need for research funding and Mak-RIF secretariat for ensuring that the funds are accessible.

Project CO-PI Prof. Bernard Bashaasha presenting

Presenting on the motivation and objectives of the study, the project Co PI, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha said,  there exist egg based processed products such as liquid and powdered egg products and several others that are not being adequately exploited in the Ugandan context.

For instance, the professor said, due to the restrictions associated with the pandemic, the price of shell eggs dropped by 33% from UGX9, 200 for a 30 egg tray in March 2020 to UGX 6,500 during the lockdown.

Prof. Bashaasha said in addition to staff layoffs and job losses, many egg producers could no longer afford to purchase poultry feeds and the necessary veterinary supplies to sustain their businesses.

The crisis in the egg value chain according the Co-PI led to calls for public finance bail out, financial packages and new business innovations and policy interventions to strengthen the egg value chain including diversification of egg based processed products and promotion of their wider consumption.

“There was a public outcry both in the mainstream and socio media about the plight of poultry farmers following the crisis. On 4th May 2020  when H.E, The President of Uganda, while addressing the nation advised poultry farmers to venture into the processing of eggs to extend their shelf life and diversity into new products and markets”, Said Prof. Bashaasha.

Prof. Bashaasha reported that there is  inadequate understanding of the structure, conduct, and functioning of the egg value chain in Uganda.

“There is currently lack of knowledge on the potential, profitability, acceptability and sustainability of egg-based processed products in the Ugandan context in as far as contributing to household incomes and addressing nutritional deficiencies are concerned.

This research is therefore, aimed at assessing how egg processing can be a sustainable market solution for Ugandan poultry farmers during and post COVID-19 pandemic and other market shocks”. He said

He said the project had  come up with major outputs namely;  a detailed and comprehensive report, a Business plan based on the research findings that will be a guide for investors who would like to make capital investments in egg processing plants and a policy brief entailing Policy interventions and options for egg industry.                  

Project PI Dr. Rosemary Isoto presenting study findings

Using the secondary data and survey results, the Principal Investigator  Dr. Rosemary Isoto reported that  the trend in egg production in Uganda (2009-2017) recorded an   increase from 739 million eggs to 907 million eggs in 2017; while the projected maximum egg production between 2020 and 2030 was  to rise from 907 million to over 1.24 million.

Dr. Isoto said the categorization of poultry farmers based on scale of production revealed distinct categories namely:  small scale subsistence (1-400) small commercial (400-1000) constituted 34%, medium commercial (1001-2000) constituted 13%, large commercial (2,001-10,000) constituting 17% and integrated large commercial (10,000+) constituting 7%.

“The primary production node of the egg value chain is therefore dominated by smallholder egg producers, relying on the traditional deep litter type of production technology with no significant entry barriers.

The egg value chain is dominated by trading in the primary product of shell egg and secondary and tertiary value added egg-based processed products are limited leading to lack of business resilience.

The egg processing level is a near monopoly dominated by only one single processor operating at less than one third of installed capacity on account of inadequate raw material (shell eggs) and limited demand for egg-based processed products”, Dr. Isoto reported.

The PI reported that before the COVID lockdown in March, the price of a tray of eggs was UGX 9,200 while at the pick of the lock down, the price fell to UGX 6,500 per tray and slightly improved to UGX 8700 after relaxing.

All actors along the egg value chain eg farmers, assemblers, middlemen, transporters, wholesalers and retailers  according to Dr. Isoto   experienced   loses   and low profits with major source of price information being the word by mouth -an implication of non- utilisation of ICT   for the egg sector.

“The major challenges for egg production in Uganda include the high cost of feeds and veterinary supplies and a high burden of poultry diseases. The other challenges are lack of investment capital to finance business growth, technology improvement and business expansion, limited space for operation, limited access to market, price fluctuation, counterfeit medicines and poor quality chicks” Dr. Isoto explained.

Dr. Isoto however said, in spite of the above challenges, in the absence of shocks, there is a large market for shell eggs and the egg production business is profitable and there were still economies waiting to be exploited.

She said there exists a huge unexploited potential for egg based products targeting hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and the baby food industry that require business innovations and policy interventions to exploit.

Dr. Isoto also said, there is lack of awareness among Ugandan consumers of the value of egg based processed products ( liquid egg white, liquid egg yolk and liquid whole egg) with the exception of powdered eggs.

Graduate student Ms. Noreen speaking

The Mak graduate student attached to the project Ms. Noreen Munabi Nkuraija reported that in Uganda, there is one major egg processing factory, Pristine Foods located in Kireka yet there are many unexploited opportunities in the egg sector.

“There are different forms of processed eggs including liquid egg white, liquid egg yolk and liquid whole egg, egg yolk powder and whole egg powder. Products from the processed eggs include confectionery, industrial bakeries, meat and fish, noodles, potato products, vegetarian, weight products and performance management products, ice cream and milk products, liquor manufacturers, mayonnaise and sauces.

Ms. Noreen explained that egg processing involves depallatising, pallet washing, palletizing trays, loading, tray washing, breaking enzymes, eggshell processing, fermentation, filtration, mixing, pasteurizing and palletizing products among others.

She expressed the need to invest in technologies and sustain the processed eggs to prolong shelf life, stabilize prices and create reliable markets.

In his closing remarks the Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering, Dr. Abel Atukwase commended the study for the interdisciplinary bringing on board farmers, businessmen in food processing, agricultural economists and value chain experts.

He said investment in value addition contribute to food security, creates job opportunities and generates income and eventually contributes to peace and security.

Dr. Abel Atwase closing the workshop

Dr. Atukwase appreciated the research team for drafting the policy brief noting that currently, there is no policy on value addition that can address concerns of RECO Foods and Pristine for example the challenge of getting raw materials needed and the limited demand for liquid eggs.

He said Makerere and the school were ready to work with stakeholders who would wish to partner in research and food processing and other avenues like training, technology transfer and student attachment for internship.

The Dean thanked the team for coming up with the business plan for public, investors and government noting that, that is what research is supposed to do. He expressed gratitude to the GoU for availing funds for research generating data and innovations that the private sector can use to advance value addition.

“The school has the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC) and I call upon investors and researchers with business ideas to partner with us. I also call upon Mak RIF to think of proposals with a component for equipment for investment in technology and facilities like the  FTBIC to assist researchers and investors  and private sector”, Dr. Atwakase requested.

Dr. Atukwase advised the private investors to identify the specific established intervention programs in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), the UDC as an arm of government and MAAIF for support and   partnership for value addition.He noted that land is a constant and to feed the growing population, innovations are needed to cut down the post-harvest loses and also motivate the farmers.

Report Compiled by
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer, CAES



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