Small and medium sized enterprises (SMES) engaged in food processing now have an opportunity to upgrade their production skills, thanks to $1.5million (about Shs 5.5 billion) made available by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) framework.
So far some 11 (eleven) food processing companies have been selected after assessing their quality and price competitiveness, and export potential. The selected SMES production and equipment capacity, staff technical ability and the standard of their premises hygiene was also examined before their selection.
According to the Assistant Commissioner for Primary Processing and Value Addition, Ministry of Agriculture (MAAIF), Mr Moses Kasigwa, the outcome of the project is to enhance “technical and operational” capacity of Ugandan food processing companies as highlighted in the National Development Plan III.
The main focus of the country’s development blueprint is agro- industrialization. And for this to be achieved, Mr Kasigwa notes that agro-processing agenda must become a reality, something the project funding will actively seek to promote through among other things establishing what he described as a strategic mechanism for importation of agro-processing technology.”
To ensure the project whose implementation commenced in May 2021 and scheduled to end at the end of this year (December 2023) fulfil its objective, MAAIF developed Technology Advice and Solutions from Korea project (TASK) in collaboration with the Korean Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) to assist food processing companies in resolving on-site technical and operational difficulties derailing SMES value addition efforts.
“The other objective is to establish business linkages between Korean and Ugandan food processing companies to foster further cooperation after the project is completed,” reads a statement issued by MAAIF.
According to MAAIF assessment, the TASK project is already enhancing technical capacities of Ugandan companies such as Discovery Trading Company who are now able to directly export coffee to South Korea without going through agents and brokers as it has been mostly the case previously.
Buyers from Korea can also directly interface with the SMES here without involvement of any third parties who are known for increasing cost of transactions. This is well exemplified by the two Korean companies, Jaywave and Lisilence Coffee who have since entered a deal with Discovery Trading Company, a local company.
After tasting Ugandan coffee, the General Manager of Jaywave, Mr Kim Cheolok, said: “It is the best I have tasted.”
Overwhelmed by its taste and richness, he made an order for three containers (two Arabica, and one Robusta) to be shipped in Korea.
Before being overwhelmed by the richness of Uganda’s coffee his company would procure coffee beans from Vietnam and Colombia.
Importantly, the initiative by the Government of the Republic of Korea in partnership with the Uganda’s government birthed TASK project will not only provide technical solutions to selected SMES in the food processing sector, but also help with establishment of products such as instant coffee for export across Africa and the Middle East market.
This will be in addition to different companies in the food processing sector, upon recommendation of MAAIF, access not just not technical advice but also directly trade in the South Korean market. The same will be for vanilla, peanuts and sesame, among other commodities.