Cassava, Matooke product producers unveil wheat alternatives

In Summary
  • URA should grant new factories 2 years to help them learn the process, be able to pay, after which they can start to pay taxes.
  • The value of wheat imports has increased overtime & even the international prices went up to 20% last year,30% this year.
  • The tendency to imagine that  non-wheat products are not tasty should stop.
Honourable Victoria Sekitoleko, the Vice Chairperson of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda
Image: Courtesy

A section of Private sector players in the manufacturing sector are combining efforts to have their products replace wheat in the wake of rising global prices.

However in light of that, majority have complained of stringent tax enforcement ,lack of market accessibility and the fact that electricity is very expensive and inconsistent which often  leads to losses. 

A cross section of participants listen intently to various presenters
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Other issues include the fact that majority of Ugandans are ignorant of the availability of wheat substitutes which actually are healthier due to the absence of an unwanted protein; gluten, commonly found in wheat.

During the dialogue organized by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with MasterCard Foundation-Young Africa Works in Uganda, it emerged that cassava, pumpkin, millet, matooke and sorghum offer tasty alternatives.

Food processors display non wheat food stuffs
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

This is after participants were treated to a moment of tasting where they were given a chance to taste biscuits, cakes and bread made out of Uganda’s food crops.

Honourable Victoria Sekitoleko, the Vice Chairperson of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU)said that Uganda is gifted with such alternatives made from the different flour.

The panel share their thoughts on the day's theme
Image: courtesy

“I have just tasted and I want to tell everybody that until and unless you start scrutinizing and asking questions you cannot tell that it is possible to have such products”. She said.

In 2005, President Museveni commissioned the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development, (PIBID) with the aim to add value to bananas and commercialize them through research, locally known as Matooke and today an exciting line of food products is being produced under the Tooke brand which is gluten free.

According to Dr. Bahati Joseph, a researcher with PIBID, currently they have accomplished research on the banana crop on why it performs in some areas and fails in others, how to use it for mass production and how to develop storage as well as collection centres will well informed science.

Dr.Joseph Bahati researcher with the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

“Now in Kampala we are in about 305 supermarkets with our products and we have been able to come with a database of bakers that we are going to train to use our Tooke flour instead of depending on wheat flour”, Bahati revealed.

The dialogue was meant to address the rising wheat and opportunities for Import replacement along the Wheat Value chain under the theme:  “Rising wheat prices: opportunities for import replacement.”

This is at a time when wheat prices in the country are on the increase as result of rise in fuel prices as well as the Russia-Ukraine war which hiked cost of importation of wheat, affecting the bakery and confectionary industries.

Despite the current challenge, the issue has presented an opportunity for innovation especially regarding domestic production of wheat substitutes that Uganda is currently beginning to exploit.

The Tooke brand display
Image: Edwin Muhumuza