SMEs should focus on adding value to agro products, says Prof Balunywa

Prof Balunywa speaks during the launch of Hibiscus Tea Bags in Kampala recently. Photo / Courtesy 

What you need to know:

According to Prof Wasswa Balunywa, the local agro processing industry can play a vital role in supplementing the dietary health requirements of the population. 

Small and medium enterprises in agro processing must focus on products that have a competitive advantage because. 

Such products, Prof Wasswa Balunywa, the Makerere Business School Principal, said such as including Hibiscus must have health benefits to an increasingly sedentary population. 

Speaking at the launch of Hibiscus Tea Bags processed by Rena Industries, Prof Balunywa said the local agro-processing industry can play a vital role in supplementing the dietary health requirements of the population. 

“There are many traditional plants that are known to have curative properties and these can be repackaged and certified to supplement our dietary requirements” he said, noting that Rena Industries was working tirelessly to add value to Hibiscus, which other SMEs must replicate. 

The hibiscus tea bags contain vitamins, iron, and antioxidants among others health benefits. 

Ms Regina Nakayenga, the Rena Beverage Solutions founder and managing director, said during the launch that the product has been packaged in a modern and high-quality form to ensure that it is beneficial to consumers. 

“The ingredients in these tea bags have the capacity to lessen body pains that people experience for various reasons. For example, females who get hot flushes during menstruation, blood pressure, hip, and joint pains after exercises, bowel constipation, and many more”  she said, adding that the products target young adult professionals and corporates who are becoming increasingly health conscious and striving to combat lifestyle diseases that are on the increase.  

There has been growing demand for health and wellness products in Uganda necessitated by the desire for improved health. 

The value addition is also expected to increase consumption of hibiscus products, which in turn will improve farmers’ livelihoods in areas such as Tororo, Pallisa, Arua, Luweero, Nakaseke, Noya, Gulu, and Kasese, where Rena has so far mobilised more than 400 framers. 

Dr Maggie Kigozi, the Uganda Investment Authority former executive director, said Rena was one of the top most innovative companies that are trying new products to meet market needs.

“I have used the powder Hibiscus to make juice and it has been a smooth journey with them. I encourage women and men to be entrepreneurial and innovative and then be successful just like Nakayenga,” she said.

Prof William Kyomuhangire, manager of the Food Technology and Business Incubation Center at Makerere University, said hibiscus is a traditional product that is used to prevent non-communicable diseases. 

“I urge Ugandans to emulate such products getting them from the kitchen to markets so as to create value addition in the society,” he said.

Rena processes a number of hibiscus-based products such as ready-to-drink juice, concentrate, wine, seed snacks, and seed coffee, among others. 

Rena started operating in 2010 and has now grown to into a large business that promotes value addition.