A New Value Proposition for Uganda’s Maize Stover to Manufacture Moulded Pulp Packaging Material for Fruits and Vegetables

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A New Value Proposition for Uganda’s Maize Stover to Manufacture Moulded Pulp Packaging Material for Fruits and Vegetables

Stephen Lwasa1*, Adam Charlton2, Jalia N. Packwood2, Andrew S. Ayor3, John B. Kirabira2, Khairallah Naillah4, Miremadi, Florence4, Davis B. Bariho5, Rusia Orikiriza5., Esther Mugambe6, Leticia Katiiti1and Grace Mbabazi1
1Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics, Makerere University, Uganda
2Bangor University, UK
3College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University, Uganda
4Nafici Environmental Research, UK.
5Oribags Innovations (U) Limited
6Musabody Machinery (U) Limited, Uganda
*Corresponding author
DOI: https://doi.org/10.51584/IJRIAS.2023.8701
Received: 19 May 2023; Revised: 12 June 2023; Accepted: 17 June 2023; Published: 26 July 2023


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Abstract: – Post harvest losses of fresh produce, including fruits and vegetables, have continued to be high. This realization has triggered numerous efforts to address this issue. One proposition is to utilize maize stover to produce sustainable moulded pulp bio-based packaging as a possible replacement for single plastics packaging. Maize stover is considered a burden to farmers to dispose after harvesting leading to its wastage. The objectives of this study were; to ascertain the current ways in which maize stover is utilized by farmers, the major packaging materials they use, and the determinants of demand for the quantity of packaging materials that farmers use. A total of 200 smallholder maize farmers from Kamuli district were interviewed. Findings show that a good percentage of farmers destroy the stover through burning, some farmers plough it back to replenish the lost soil nutrients, while others use it as livestock fodder. Polypropylene and polyethylene packaging materials are the most used and preferred packages due to availability, and affordability. The covariates that determine the demand for the number of packages purchased annually were; quantity of maize marketed, distance to the market, funds spent on marketing, and annual income. To increase the demand for maize stover packaging materials formal education, regular training, access to capital and formation of farmer groups are recommended.

Key words: Post harvest losses, maize stover, moulded pulp packaging materials

I. Introduction

Post-harvest losses (PHL) are among the priority challenges that must be addressed to reduce food and nutrition insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa [1]. In Uganda, many farmers continue to experience high PHLs [2]. These losses are manifested through quantitative and qualitative losses that occur due to late harvesting, insufficient drying, improper threshing, poor storage, and poor packaging. Post-Harvest Losses have a massive impact on food and nutritional security, and farmer incomes in developing countries, in general and Uganda in particular, and are caused by fresh produce spoilage during storage and transportation from farm to market, partly resulting from the use of inefficient packaging materials. In Uganda’s fruit and vegetable sector, it is estimated that 30-40% of fresh produce is wasted through PHLs, raising to 60% for tomatoes. Uganda has an estimated population of 42 million people, with 84 % living in the rural areas of the country and 82% of the workforce employed in agriculture. About 41% of the population is undernourished (3 year average to 2017) [3]. Women are more risk of Food and Nutrition Security [4], despite the fact that women contribute 70-80% of the agricultural labour force in Uganda [5]. Maize is a staple food crop in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) [6]. It is the most important cereal crop in this region. It provides over 40% of the calories consumed in both rural and urban areas of Uganda [7]. Smallholders account for 80% of the rural poor in Uganda, but are also the major producers of maize. Maize is grown in every part of the country [8] and provides a direct source of income for over two million households, over 100,000 traders, and 600 millers [9].