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Agro engineer wins second Presidential Science award

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th September 2008 03:00 AM

PATIENCE pays, goes the adage, and this has been Joseph Kavuma’s story — eking out a living from agro-processing machinery fabrication. “I still don’t believe I won this year’s Presidential Scientific Annual Award. It’s great that my work has been recognised,” says Kavuma.

PATIENCE pays, goes the adage, and this has been Joseph Kavuma’s story — eking out a living from agro-processing machinery fabrication. “I still don’t believe I won this year’s Presidential Scientific Annual Award. It’s great that my work has been recognised,” says Kavuma.

By John Kasozi

PATIENCE pays, goes the adage, and this has been Joseph Kavuma’s story — eking out a living from agro-processing machinery fabrication. “I still don’t believe I won this year’s Presidential Scientific Annual Award. It’s great that my work has been recognised,” says Kavuma.

The Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Ham Mulira, represented the President at the award-giving ceremony at the Kampala Serena Hotel recently.

Kavuma, the manager and proprietor of Tonnet Agro Engineering Company, is a graduate of Electrical Engineering of Kyambogo University.

After his graduation in the 1980s, he took up a job with the Ministry of Works, before shifting to the now defunct Dairy Corporation, where he worked as a senior electrical technician.

“I longed to be self-employed,” says Kavuma. “With the little savings I had, I branched into the private sector.”
In 1995, Tonnet Enterprise was born at Kalwere in Kampala and registered as a sole proprietorship company with full membership with the Uganda Small-Scale Industries Association. This year, Kavuma shifted his business to Kyebando, 3.5km on the Kampala-Gayaza Road, behind the Uganda Marine Products factory.

He started by fabricating power stabilisers, step-down transfers and MK boxes, the latter boosting him tremendously. On two occasions at the annual international trade fair at Lugogo, President Yoweri Museveni was impressed by the quality of Kavuma’s MK boxes.

However, business became hard when he found himself having to compete with cheap MK boxes on the black market. This prompted him to begin manufacturing agro-processing machinery. He first made cassava chipping machines. Within a short time, he began producing an assortment of machines, both electrically-powered and manually operated.

His most recent invention is the cereal or peanut butter-making machine. The engine-powered machine grinds 50kg of groundnut and simsim paste in an hour.
“It cost sh3m and took three weeks to make,” Kavuma says.

Tonnet also makes grain cleaners, many of which have been sold in southern Sudan. The grain cleaner sieves and grades beans, maize, sunflower seeds, rice and groundnuts.

“The engine powered-cleaner sieves between 700-800 kilogrammes per hour and is able to sieve 100kg at a time,” says Robert Mugenyi, a technician at Tonnet Enterprises.

Kavuma has participated in and organised regional technical training, repairs and adjustments on agro-processing machines, sponsored by USAID and East Africa Root Crops Research Network.

Tonnet has also worked in partnership with Kawanda Agriculture Research Institute, Namulonge Agriculture Research Institute and Namalere Agriculture Engineering Institute.
Students of Technology and Agriculture often undertake projects with Tonnet.
“We are looking to expand into lather, milling, bending and rolling and shearing machines,” says Kavuma, adding that they also want to branch into manufacturing their own spare parts.

Because of the quality of his products, Kavuma has managed to find a niche in Kenya, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kavuma encourages the young generation not to be afraid to venture into private business.

Agro engineer wins second Presidential Science award

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