Trainings that prove nature is a gift that keeps giving

Julius Nyanzi (left), explains how he grows most of his spice such as thyme in old denim pants. Photos/ Edgar R Batte

What you need to know:

  • Through the training, farmers are expected to know what is needed in the export market, including dealing with chemical residue challenges. There are opportunities in value addition such as making packaging materials, processing, marketing and even informing people on agriculture in simplified language.

In 2012, Mariam Kasoma was laid off from her job as an accountant at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU). She was devastated. In a search for new bearings to earn a living, she turned to selling second-hand clothes in Kibuli and Ggaba areas of the Kampala nucleus.
As she went about settling into what she described as a less ideal job than her accounting job, radio was her solace. While listening to Akaboozi Kubbiri and Voice of Africa radios, she connected with the programme of Julius Nyanzi of Prof Bioresearch who was communicating about The Great Sundowner- Making the Impossible, Possible. 

Value addition 
He talked about how one could undertake self-empowering value addition projects with a seed capital of as low as Shs1m and earn from it with clear end markets to which they could sell their products.
Kasoma listened in some more and was convinced to attend the annual workshops where Nyanzi, a graduate of Science Botany Chemistry from Makerere University, shared information about different income-generating ventures with those that turned up at Hotel Equatorial in Kampala.   

There, she learnt how to make skin spot removers, organic pesticides and organic food appetisers from natural materials. She was also taught how to use organic Himalayan, Epsom and sea salts.
Like that, she dropped cloth vending and concentrated on the value addition business. Over time, she has been able to get money to cater for her personal needs and facilitate herself in different trainings.
“I have been able to acquire a certificate in complementary and alternative medicine from Avance International University in Nabweru.  I have also undertaken training in medicine and bakery. That is in addition to making friends and widening my network to Prof Julius Nyanzi, Prof Alex Biomark of Green Gold Clinic, BB Katongole of Voice of Africa Radio among others. With the knowledge and use of organic medicine and remedies, my health and that of my family has improved,” Kasoma explains. 

Before Nyanzi graduated, he established the Prof Bioresearch. 
“I looked at the professional approach of research in Uganda. Most professionals do research but keep it in their libraries or book shelves. I decided to share knowledge with others. In doing so, I got an opportunity to work with the United Nations (UN) under the International Property Intellectual Organisation,” he recounts. 
He adds, “We moved around Europe, South Africa and North America, in the movements, I met students who met at a meeting they called the Sundowner at which they discussed ideas. I like it and decided to also start one in Uganda where I would share ideas from my research with people to attain self-employment.”

Nyanzi explains the process of value addition at his workshop

Nyanzi embarked on the idea in October of 2016, and the first turn up was big. One of the attendees was Fred Mukisa who was a builder and potter at construction sites at the time.
He got drawn into the ideas of using Uganda’s natural greenery. He learnt to extract oils to make after shave in 2017. He sold it to barbershop owners and people in Nabuwomelo in Luweero District who got drawn to the effective and nicely scented products.  

Fortune from value addition 
It was made from citronella, millet amarelle, lemon grass and sugarcane ethanol. They sold the packed and labelled aftershave at Shs3,000, for the small bottle and Shs7,000, the bigger bottle. 
In 2017, Mukisa used his savings to acquire a solar drier at Shs500,000. The purpose was to dry farm produce such as fruits, mushrooms, rosemary, grasses and more. 
Some of the grasses were fed to rabbits and poultry. He made a fortune selling silage as well as extracts that became popular for their healing and therapeutic solutions with people during the Covid-19 lockdown. 
Nyanzi says in Sundowner training, he shares knowledge and first-hand information with people without any hesitation and cover. 

“I open up to the public and share my scientific findings with them without any strings attached. The purpose is to empower others. If I know something, the honour is upon me to sharpen others and I believe it can uplift the society and bridge the gap between the scientists and the rest of the people using simple language. Scientists normally use difficult language,” he explains.
This year, the Prof Bioresearch establishment will hold the seventh edition of The Great Sundowner tomorrow at Equatorial Shopping Mall in Kampala. 
“I want us to see this as an eye opener to the Ugandans to know that we can process our own things into final products which can be internationally treasured. In this edition, we are going to tackle a biodiesel project as a renewable energy source. Biodiesel can run a car and motorcycle. It comes from the ‘Kabakanjagala’ tree from which candle nuts are made. We are also going to teach people how to make toilet paper production the cheap way,” Nyanzi reveals, adding that the unemployed can find a new beginning to earning a source of livelihood.
Hamza Lutaaya, proprietor of the Kumbukya drink has attended different editions of the training from which he was able to fine tune his idea of making an organic energy drink.

Julius Nyanzi demonstrates how to grind stevia.

Jackfruit ‘meat’
Mukisa adds that the training has changed his mind set and exposure to opportunities such as using the jackfruit to make safer meat, manufacture of poultry feeds from simple and openly available grass that also contains medicinal content, and cassava leaves as food rich with folic acid.
As such, he implores the conveners and organisers of the sundowners to scale them out to different regions of Uganda and facilitate them in all local languages for the benefit of different communities. 
Nyanzi, who holds a master’s degree in pharmacology- the study of drugs: their preparation, properties, uses and effects, observes that following the outbreak of Russia-Ukraine war, the commodity prices went up. 
He saw an opportunity to publicise the need for Uganda to go back to some of the indigenous solutions like the use of papaya sap as a cleaning and washing ingredient. 

His training includes ways in which soap can be made and made available at a cheap price, of as low as Shs4,000 per bar. He explains, “The materials are very cheap. We make the soap using ash and animal fats. Normally people use palm kernels imported from DR Congo but right now DR Congo is unstable so it becomes expensive. We make toilet paper that costs between Shs250 and Shs400. 
“From the mango seed, we can make good butter, chocolates and cosmetics. The people who cut Eucalyptus trees leave the leaves as waste but the oil that comes from them, costs some good money. So the things that are taken as leftovers are the real raw materials we use. That is the essence of the Sundown, we ignite knowledge,” he further adds.