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100% taste – 0% waste
Masaka in Uganda is renowned for the large number of pineapples that are grown there. It is a fantastic region with huge biodiversity and a favourable climate. During the harvest season, there are so many pineapples that they cannot all be eaten – so Mujaasi Investment went in search of a solution to this waste problem.
The pineapples that grow in this region are very large, and have a high sugar content of 68%. The pineapples are transported to the market by motorcycle. Around 100 pineapples are suspended from 2 carrying sticks. When the pineapples arrive at the market a day later, they are overripe, completely covered in dust and damaged by insects. It is no real surprise that no one wants to buy them. The price plummets and around 40% of the harvest is eventually lost.
Jam making requires expertise, too
In search of a solution, Godfrey Bukenya, General Manager of Mujaasi Investment, a company that invests in the fruit and vegetable growing sector, came up with the idea of making jam from the pineapples. “Through this innovative approach, we hoped to cut the level of waste; a real problem for the pineapple growers.” In addition to that, farmers can earn far more from their pineapples by turning them into new products, and selling them.
“Carolina trained our production team to make jam, focusing much attention on a more efficient production process and hygiene on the shop floor.”
However, jam making also required a level of expertise that the farmers did not have available to them. Godfrey established a team of young people and young female pineapples farmers, occasionally sought advice and – then the process stagnated. He and his team needed more knowledge about production and marketing. At the start of this year, PUM expert Carolina Verhoeven travelled to Masaka to help Godfrey and his team out of the impasse. “She trained our production team to make jam, focusing much attention on a more efficient production process and hygiene on the shop floor.” The changes proposed by Carolina were so successful that jam production rose by 40%.
“Carolina was very caring in her dealings with us. The people were delighted by her. She started by observing. Without our even noticing, she took photographs of us, which she subsequently showed to us to explain what we were doing wrong. She then told us how we could improve,” explained Godfrey.
‘The results taste delicious.’
The improvement in the jam production process was just one of many improvements that were introduced following Carolina’s visit. In line with her motto ‘100% taste – 0% waste’, Carolina showed the women that there were other opportunities, too. Even the parts of the pineapple they allowed to rot as waste could be used. “Carolina for example taught us how to make chutney from the waste, and that we can use the fibres from the pineapple leaves to make leather.” The idea was even born of introducing ecotourism in the future, by bringing people to our pineapple farms. The zero-waste policy proposed by Carolina has been embraced enthusiastically. The advice on hygiene and quality control has also been taken very seriously by the young team. And the results taste delicious. Not only the jam but also the chutney are guaranteed keepers, concluded Godfrey.
Text: Pauline Opmeer & Sylvia Szely
Video and photography: Opmeer Reports