Public – Private Partnerships Research Projects launched in Uganda

On Friday, 16 November 2018, Dr. Maxwell Otim, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) presided over the official launch of the Public – Private Partnership in Research and Innovation (PPP) projects in Uganda. The PPP projects are funded under Theme 3 of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Africa (SGCI). The projects are a result of a call for Ugandan academic researchers to partner with the private sector to solve problems in the industrial manufacturing focusing on agro-processing of food and beverages. 

During the launch, the researchers accompanied by their private sector counterparts presented the highlights of their projects, the key problems they were addressing but more importantly the research utilization and uptake pathways. The private sector partners who are the immediate beneficiaries of these research projects narrated how the findings would impact their business and the strategies to commercialize the findings. By interrogating the practical questions of needs, applications, profitability and sustainability, the partners benefitted by clarifying their respective roles, outlining their contributions and their expectations from the partnerships.

Beyond the technical issues, the launch provided the opportunity for the partners to discuss partnership management and governance as well as administrative and conflict resolution with their collaborations. Timelines and deliverables were fine-tuned and an implementation roadmap agreed. With this, Uganda becomes the first country to roll out the PPP grants projects.

section of particiapants.JPG                               Prof Muyanja displays some of the products of their previous private sector collaboration.JPG                                       Evidence that it works_private sector partners.JPG
                    Participants of the PPP project launch                                                       Prof Muyanja displays some of the products of their previous private sector collaboration                                                                        Evidence that Private Sector Partners work

For more on the PPP projects in Uganda, see below:

Project 1: Commercial Exploitation of Propolis and Bee Venom in Uganda

This project aims at developing four propolis and bee venom-based products including: propolis powder supplement, bee venom powder supplement, a syrup drink and a ready – to – drink beverage. The School of Veterinary Medicine & Animal Resource-Research Center for Tropical Diseases and Vector Control (SVAR-RTC) at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & Biosecurity (COVAB)-Makerere University, have partnered with private sector players such as The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) which has a network of 9,000 beekeepers and Aryodi bee farm with a network of 500 producers, an already running business with between 10,000 kg to 15,000 kg of honey per season.

In Uganda, the proportion of people that are immune-compromised due to factors such as malnutrition, communicable diseases and stress are rising. Bee products like propolis and venom are known to be medicinal. In Asia, Europe and USA, propolis and venom have been processed and commercialized as medicine and food supplements. In Uganda, only 1% of propolis is crudely harnessed by cottage enterprises that have ventured into production of supplements and beverages enriched with propolis or bee venom. However, the production (extraction) processes and quality of the products, not only vary but are not known. Thus, the need to standardize/optimize the processes and develop prototype products for the growing Ugandan market.

From this project, SVAR-RTC laboratory will generate scientific publications, mentor students and obtain intellectual property rights on products developed in collaboration with the private sector. The project will also enhance the capacity of TUNADO's members while Aryodi bee farm will benefit from improved processing protocols, enhanced capacity of its 20 trainers in hygienic extraction and handling of bee venom and propolis and increased product profiles of their processing unit. In the long run this project will create market avenues for propolis and bee venom products that are currently underutilized.

See presentation here: Project 1_Amulen_improved commercial exploitation of propolis and bee venom in Uganda.pdf

For details, contact Dr. Deborah Ruth Amulen on email: 

Project 2: Cocoa waste to wealth using yeast strains from Ugandan box fermentation

This project aims to develop a single cocoa fermentation box to help small scale farmers who cannot generate large quantities of cocoa beans required in storey box fermentation. The single fermentation box is less capital requiring and gender inclusive. The project also proposes the use a yeast starter with pectin hydrolysing properties to aid extraction of cocoa juice from cocoa pulp using a stainless-steel tank with a hydraulic press. The development of value added products such as ethanol and wine from cocoa pulp juice and sweating is expected to reduce Uganda's ethanol importation costs which stood at USD 500,000 in the year 2015. Therefore, the project is expected to boost income generating capacity of participating cocoa farmers in varying agro-ecological zones of Uganda by up to 25% through sale of value added products to laboratories and well fermented cocoa beans to cocoa buyers thus fetching better prices. This project will be run in collaboration with the private actors in the cocoa industry namely ICAM Chocolate and Lwanga enterprises.

Cocoa ranks 4th in foreign revenue contributions and supports over 10,000 households in Uganda. Cocoa is harvested as pods, broken open to remove the white mucilaginous pulp which consists of water, sugars, pectin and organic acids that act as the fermentation media. In Uganda, cocoa fermentation is carried out spontaneously by unidentified microorganisms using either storey boxes or heaps; this leads to product and price variability. NaCORI has isolated pure yeast strains from Bundibugyo and Kayunga districts that could be used to generate controlled fermentation to attain better quality beans. In Uganda, the storey box method of cocoa fermentation is mostly afforded by commercial exporters since it requires huge capital investments and large volumes of beans (>100kg) to attain quality results. This forces small scale farmers to sell fresh beans with no value added. This is the gap that this project aims to fill.

See presentation here: Project 2_Lawrence_Cocoa waste to wealth using known yeast strains.pdf

For details, contact Mr. Lawrence Muganga on Email:

Project 3: High fibre bakery and confectionery products from maize germ and bran

This project focuses on the utilization of abundant maize bran and germ generated by the different millers in product development for bakery and confectionery enterprises.  The commercial potential of the project is based on the ever-increasing demand for maize hence resulting in bran and germ availability at all times. Besides, the products herein proposed possess desired nutritional and health benefits. The targeted group for this project and its products include all health-conscious consumers.

The production of baked and confectionery products in Uganda is currently dominated by the use of refined flours with low fiber content and are highly priced.  The project is expected to incorporate bran and germ into various baked and confectionery products such as muffins, bread and cookies.  These products are differentiated from the existing products due to their high fiber content and associated health benefits.

In general, the project focuses on all maize millers who produce bran and germ as byproducts.  In particular, the project's private partners include: Maganjo Grain Millers - producing a range milled cereal flours, extruded breakfast and snack food; Agro ways (U) Limited – producing maize grit and JOVAY School of Cookery – producing a variety of bakery and confectionery products. 

The major beneficiaries of this project are the millers who generate bran and germ; the bakery and confectionery enterprises and the consumers who enjoy high fiber foods.  The consumer demand for health products provide the springboard for uptake and utilization of knowledge that will be generated by the project.

Maize is the most important cereal food crop supporting approximately 86% of the 4.2 million agricultural households in Uganda.  Processing maize into refined flours results into large amounts of bran and germ as by-products. These are widely used as animal feed but not yet considered as human food.  Maize bran remains the richest source of additional fibre and contains various minerals which are vital for the proper functioning of the body and in the prevention of constipation.  Maize germ, on the other hand, is highly nutritious with essential oils, vitamins and proteins. Maize bran and germ, when used in product development can impart a number of health benefits.

See presentation here:Project 3_Charles_Presentation UNCST project review.pdf

For more details on this project, contact Prof. Charles Muyanja on email:  

Author: Maurice Ochieng Bolo, PhD
               The Scinnovent Centre