- May 7, 2022
- Posted by: Mariam Kasemiire
- Category: Uncategorized
Commercialization of New Sorghum and Millet Products for Improved Nutrition and Socio-Economic Gains in Eastern Africa (CONSORMIP)
Sorghum and millet are key crops in Uganda’s agricultural food systems and directly and indirectly support over 10 million livelihoods in the country. The two crops are tolerant to arid and dry environments. They are highly nutritious, not known to be allergenic, have low glycemic index (help lower the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases), and contain phytochemicals beneficial to health. Despite their nutritional benefits, “the crops are increasingly disappearing from our diets”.
With support from SIDA through BioInnovate Africa, researchers from the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), together with their counterparts from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and Hawassa University in Ethiopia in 2018 set out to study and improve the nutritional and market value of the crops.
Through a project titled; “Commercialization of New Sorghum and Millet Products for Improved Nutrition and Socio-Economic Gains in Eastern Africa (CONSORMIP)”, the researchers including Prof. Yusuf Byaruhanga (Principal Investigator), Prof. Kyamuhangire William, and Dr Gaston Ampe Tumuhimbise, targeted to improve food and nutrition security, incomes and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in the sorghum and millet value chains in Eastern Africa.
The project specifically aimed to address the market gap – lack of value added, convenient sorghum and millet products, and to commercialize instant flour, snacks and complimentary feed made from sorghum and millet using lean business start-up and business incubation approaches. In the course of implementing the project, each partner country targeted to deliver at least one start-up enterprise commercializing one product and its attendant technology.
Project closing meeting
On 4th May 2022 the research team led by Prof. Yusuf Byaruhanga held an end of project meeting at which they disseminated the findings and achievements registered. The meeting held at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering was graced by Makerere University Vice Chancellor, represented by the First Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Prof. Umar Kakumba and attended by the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie N. Nabanoga; the Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, Dr Abel Atukwase; the Head, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Dr Ivan Mukisa Muzira; and senior members of staff at CAES.
Presenting the achievements, Prof. Byaruhanga noted that the project team had developed novel value-added products including instant sorghum and millet flours, expanded snack food, complimentary feed, and breakfast cereal products. Other achievements included processing protocols and formulations for the four product types; creating new business opportunities; and boosting capacity for research and development in the sorghum and millet value chains. The project trained three research fellows, one MSc research graduate, and several BSc research graduates. The project also developed and supported SMEs in each partner country as a vehicle for commercialization of the developed value-added products in the respective countries. It also trained four farmer groups in postharvest handling of grain foods.
- In the production of cereals, maize still has an economic advantage over sorghum and millet. Therefore, there is need for high yielding and quick maturing sorghum and millet varieties.
- Drudgery is one of the reasons for less millet and sorghum on the market.
- Commercialization is different for each product.
- The ultimate value of a product or innovation is in the market and not patent. “Many times we focus on patenting of our products but the biggest value of an innovation is in marketing,” Prof. Byaruhanga explained.
Remarks by the DVC Academic Affairs
Addressing the meeting, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Makerere University, Prof. Umar Kakumba applauded the research team for uplifting the name and ranking of the University. “CAES ranks highly in terms of research output at Makerere University and plays a pivotal role in linking the University with communities,” he noted. Despite the achievements registered in research and innovation, Prof. Kakumba said the university was not faring well in the area of knowledge translation. Reechoing the vision of the University that seeks to transform Makerere into a thought leader of knowledge generation for societal transformation and development, Prof. Kakumba explained that knowledge generated at the University must inform the processes of the transforming the country. He acknowledged the efforts of Professors in advancing the University’s research agenda. He expressed gratitude to SIDA and BioInnovate Africa for the support accorded to the project and other research activities at the University. He also appreciated the Government of Uganda for supporting high impact and transformative research at the University. Additionally, he appreciated the project partners, noting that such collaborations are crucial in building strategic partnerships. He reminded the research team to work towards patenting their products.
In her remarks, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie N. Nabanoga appreciated the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering for its outstanding contribution to research and Innovation at the University. Despite the small number of staff, the School has won many big grants and has successfully implemented many high impact research projects. The School features prominently with respect to resource mobilization,” she noted, reiterating the need to patent and commercialize all products and innovations generated at the University.
The Principal appreciated Makerere University Management for supporting research and innovation development. She also appreciated SIDA and BioInnovate Africa for supporting research at CAES and the University in general.
The Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, Prof. Abel Atukwase appreciated the research team for the great outputs intended to boost food security. He equally appreciated the SIDA and BioInnovate Africa for supporting Makerere University’s agenda of becoming a research-led University. Commenting on the relevance of Professors in generating research grants, supervising and mentoring junior staff and students, he appealed to Management to work out measures of retaining all professors post retirement.
The Head, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Dr Ivan Muzira Mukisa appreciated the contribution of senior researchers and Professors towards research and innovation at Makerere University. He equally appreciated the development partners for supporting research and innovation at the University.
The workshop was moderated by Dr Gaston Ampe Tumuhimbise from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, CAES.