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Uganda's toothpick project plagued by slow cash flows

By John Odyek

Added 8th April 2016 03:28 AM

UIRI is conducting research on the best varieties of bamboo for industrial use

Uganda's toothpick project plagued by slow cash flows

UIRI is conducting research on the best varieties of bamboo for industrial use

The Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) has identified slow and inadequate cash flows as one of the reasons hindering the development of cottage industries for manufacturing bamboo toothpicks, mats crafts among other things from readily available bamboo trees in Western Uganda.

In 2005, the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in collaboration with China Bamboo Research Centre (CBRC) embarked on the possibility of manufacturing bamboo toothpicks, mats crafts among other things from readily available bamboo trees. The project was initiated at UIRI Headquarters in Kampala City and replicated in Kabale district. 

By March 2015, the UIRI had identified an incubatee organisation called Uplift the Rural Poor who prioritized production of took picks and crafts.

"Production was ongoing and the incubatee was targeting the Ugandan and Rwandan markets. Market trials for tooth picks were programmed for Rwanda in June 2015 however; the trial batch was rejected because the packaging used was not bio degradable. The UIRI through its paper incubation programme was working on alternative packaging," said a report by released by BMAU.

The report said once the trials in Rwanda are successfully completed, the incubatee will focus on the Ugandan market starting with Kigezi region. The UIRI and the incubatee are conducting research on the best varieties of bamboo for industrial use.

amboo toothpics Bamboo toothpics.

 

The report stated that the dryer for weaving was delivered, setup and the boiler was tested. The centre was producing mats for crafts making. Overall performance of this satellite project was estimated at 65%.

The report noted that the challenges faced by were inadequate cash flow which was hindering the implementation of the incubation program. It cited the lack of a distribution van at the Kabale incubation centre.

"The centre did not have appropriate transport for finished products as such public transport is used which most times lead to products getting damaged. The weaving section at the bamboo centre was missing a sewing machine to undertake the final finishes on the crafts," read the report.

It said the centre lacks mature bamboo. "Most bamboo in the region is harvested from the Echuya Forest Reserve and the maturity is not documented. Bamboo of less than four years is not ideal for processing. The area experienced unscheduled load shedding which affects weaving and other bamboo processing procedures. The UIRI did not have a resident technician in Kabale as such, both major and minor break downs were referred to Kampala," said the report.

It recommended that the UIRI and MFPED should prioritise the incubation programme with additional funds to ease transportation of raw materials, trial marketing of R&D outputs and acquisition of complimentary equipment.

It asked the UIRI and the district local governments of Kisoro and Kabale to promote bamboo growing to increase raw materials in the region.

It advises that the UIRI should collaborate with other agencies such as National Agricultural Research Organisation to identify the best bamboo varieties for each ecological zone of the country. It noted that the UIRI should recruit and post a technician to Kigezi region to address the minor breakdowns.

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