A new, eco-friendly packaging developed by a Ugandan team, in collaboration with a university from the UK, could boost the incomes of Ugandan farmers and create much-needed new jobs. The packaging is made from maize stover – the stalks left after harvesting – and could reduce high levels of waste from fruit and vegetables like tomatoes.
Dr. Stephen Lwasa leads a team from Makerere University in Kampala, which has been working with Ugandan commercial partners Oribags Ltd and Musabody Ltd and scientists from Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre in North Wales. Their goal was to use waste material from maize cultivation, maize being one of the country’s most important cash crops.
Dr Lwasa: “The partnership that we have with Bangor University, and other partners, to use maize waste to produce packaging materials is an exciting opportunity for our farmers and others. Post-harvest losses will be reduced, product quality will be maintained and opportunities to market these packaging materials and products in high end markets, will increase streams of incomes for those involved.”
“The benefits will include raising awareness that maize stover and other crop residues that are largely considered by many as waste, are raw materials for manufacturing sustainable, bio-based packaging usable by farmers, traders and consumers.”
Lwasa added: “The packaging is environmentally friendly and bio-degradable and the farmers, most of whom are women, will earn an extra income from the sale of stover to the packaging manufacturers which will motivate farming communities to increase maize production. Packaging the fresh produce using these bio-based products will reduce post-harvest losses which are estimated at between 20 and 65 per cent.”