By Daniel Edyegu
From the time he was born on July 31, 2011, his mother suspected there was something wrong with Moses Angana. Born by caeserean in Mbale Hospital, Angana, unlike four of his siblings, exhibited peculiar traits, which baffled his mother,
“Angana was born with multiple complications which pointed to a possible mental retardation or physical disability. He was
always grumpy and never played with other children. He just kept to himself,” Wambedde recalls. If these awkward traits raised fear then the health of the baby and sluggish progress of his body weight were a cause for alarm.
“Angana was constantly constipated and would scream in pain when he was passing stool. His weight stagnated at 8kg
from six months until he made a year,” Wambedde explains. She adds that out of concern, they bought various brands
of soya flour from supermarkets, but Angana would always reject the porridge,” Wambedde adds.
Moses Mooya, a researcher and productions manager of Life Industries Uganda Ltd introduced to Wambedde the idea of
trying out the soya-maize flour they were making. Wambedde had tried to feed her son with similar products without much
Mooya offered Wambedde a kilo of the soya flour free-of-charge just to try it out. “For the first time, Angana took a full cup
of the porridge. I bought for him another kilo after the first one was finished. Within a month, he had gained one kilo and started becoming lively,” Wambedde explains.
As Angana’s appetite for the porridge improved, so did his weight and health. Statistics from the Cost of Hunger in Africa study indicate that in Uganda, one out of every three children are stunted. The study adds that stunted children have a higher grade repetition rate, at 12.2%, than non-stunted children, at 9.1%, and a higher likelihood to drop out of school.
Overall, the country loses about sh1.8 trillion annually as a result of under-nutrition. A home-based enterprise at Majanga
cell in Mbale town, Life Industries is a small-scale food processing factory producing soya-maize flour, soya-millet flour, soya-cassava flour, peanut butter, roast-and-ground soya beverage and mushrooms. The flour costs sh5,000 per
Whereas the enterprise, which was conceived by Pastor Thomas Masaba of Christ World Missions in Mbale in 2006, first dealt in bottled water, in 2011, it diversified into food production. With the help of his wife, Maureen Amonye, Mooya identified soya flour as an alternative product for Life Industries and undertook research to ascertain how to make the mixtures using other types of flour like maize and cassava.
My wife gave us a formula on the right proportions of soya to the maize,millet and cassava flour. We first tested the product on our children in 2010. The change in their health inspire us to churn out the product for the market. With sh20,000, we bought 4kg of soya and 7kg of maize for the start,” Mooya explains.
Their entry into the market was not a rosy affair though. Like any new product making an entry into a market already flooded with similar products, there was a bit of sceptism from clients on the new soya flour. In Bududa and Mbale districts where
the soya flour was first sold, most clients, rejected outright the idea that the new product had better nutrition values.
Life Industries came up with the idea of giving out the soya flour free-of -charge for a while. The strategy won the food processing firm loyal clients, most of whom are mothers.
‘My children are doing better at school’
Doreen Kaganzi, a mother of two and a resident of Malukhu in Mbale town, says she has used the soya flour from Life Industries for the last two years. “I had challenges with the soya flour on the market because most of it contained sand. I asked Mooya where I could get clean flour, he gave me a few samples and I liked it. My children like the porridge and their performance at school is improving,” Kalanzi explains.
Each week, Kalanzi purchases 5kg of the flour for the nine members of her family. From the initial small quantities of 11kg
of maize and soya, the industry this year purchased 500kg of soya for blending with the maize, cassava and millet flour.
Civil organisations taking care of children, people suffering from HIV/ AIDS and other vulnerable groups now purchase the soya flour in bulk from the firm for distribution to their clients.
Reports from the industry
We plan to expand the firm
“Our biggest challenge is the raw materials. The maize, millet, cassava and the soya that we use to make the flour are all seasonal
agricultural products. We get bulk supplies during harvests before scarcity forces us to reduce production,” Mooya says.
The fact that the process in the chain of production is manual has made production tedious and output low. From the washing of the soya, the drying, roasting and mixing the formula in to flour– everything is manual.
To ensure a steady supply of raw materials, Life Industries has partnered with farmer groups in Butaleja district to produce large quantities of soya at an agreed retail price. In the long term, life
industries also plans to purchase machines to mechanise its production.
To expand its scope of production, Life Industries plans to start apiary next year. The firm is also planning to start producing sweet wine out of wild flowers. Pastor Masaba explains that they are currently experimenting on a product that will be brewed using banana, orange, pineapple and mango flavours.
And yes, the poultry scheme – a project that is already at its advanced stages.
Under this scheme, Life Industries plans to avail each child with a hen in an initiative aimed at providing both the nutritional and social benefits to the recipients. “Each child in the communities of Mbale and Bududa will receive a hen. The hen will also curtail the dependency syndrome among our children,” Masaba says. He adds that instead of asking for scholastic materials from parents, the child can sell the hen to buy them.
It may require ample time and resilience to realise all these plans. The broad nutritional benefit of having the plans implemented, however, is what has made the proprietors of Life Industries to