By Najib Mulema
Spices are used in making curry powder which is a common ingredient in many dishes across Uganda and we love it for the rich flavor, colour and taste it gives our food.
Besides making dishes taste great, curry powder also has nutritional and health benefits such as protection against heart disease and detoxifying the liver.
Uganda has over 20 brands of curry powder but the producing companies have had to rely heavily on importation of raw materials as spices are not commercially grown in Uganda. This has led to high production costs and exposed the local brands to stiff competition from imported brands.
Well the good news is that, RESSKIM Cross Border Trade Consortium, a group of seven Ugandan companies, on July 20, 2018, launched a drive to promote commercial spice growing in Uganda during a function held at a the consortium’s demonstration farm in Kayindu Parish, Kalagala sub county, Luweero district.
After research, the consortium has found out that spices can grow very well in Uganda. This will not only increase farmers’ potential to profit from farming but also lead to import substitution of raw materials used for making curry powder, thus helping Uganda save a lot of money in foreign exchange. It will also ease access to raw materials for Uganda’s spice making companies and make them more competitive in regional and international markets.
“Our research has shown that commercial growing of spice plants in Uganda is viable. Our plan is to train farmers from different districts in how to grow these spices. The market is available and we can help them access seeds,” said William Kwezi, the Managing Director of Nkuruba Integrated Agricultural Development Services, the lead Partner Company in spice growing among the consortium members.
“You can grow one acre of maize and get less than Shs 500,000. If you grow Cumin you can get up to four million shillings,” he added.
Kwezi further revealed that the six month program will be conducted mainly in districts like Kasese, Luweero, Wakiso, Masindi, Hoima as well as Fort Portal.
Leonard Kagya, the Chairman of the consortium also the proprietor of Harrambe Curry Powder said: “Every year we the producers of curry powder import raw materials worth billions of money. I can assure the farmers that we have the market for spices.”
Lt. Col. Sam Keera, the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) coordinator for Bamunanika constituency, which comprises Zirobwe, Bamunanika, Kalagala, Kikyusa and Kamira sub counties, told farmers: “Land is scarce. You need to utilise this opportunity to grow crops which give you more money. This is a very good idea. It should be profitable – better than maize. What is important is to sensitise people”
Major Ronald Rubaale, the coordinator for OWC financial mobilisation based at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development advised farmers to form an association of spice growers in order to receive government support.
“Government does not see individuals. It sees organised groups. You have a chance to complete the value chain of curry powder. I too will participate in growing spices,” Rubaale said.