By Ben Naturinda
It was mid-2015 when he met Aman and a certain Dr. Vivek while they were on a SITA mission in Lira, Uganda to meet sunflower enterprises. They spoke about the SITA project, and how it would help him reach new markets – especially the Indian market. They spoke about technology in India, and about how, a little more than 20 years ago, there were no sunflower oil mills in India. Today, India boasts the best technologies for oil milling and oil refining.
Ogwang Joe needed better equipment to improve the extraction capacity of his small mill, that did just about 7 tones per day. Hearing the team talk about crushers, boilers and other machinery, and about how integrating these technologies into his little mill would increase his oil extraction capacity by about 20% was music to his ears. The team told him that if he extracted oil fully from the seed cake, the cake’s quality too would improve, and increase his earnings by 30% of the market value of the cake. Excited at these prospects, he promised himself to think beyond his little mill.
Ogwang asked to be linked to companies that could provide him with access to better technology. The team promised to help, and in 2016, during SITA’s fifth Partnership Platform meeting in Kampala, Uganda, he was linked to the Indian company Vijin. They arranged for Ogwang to travel to India, to explore a range of options.
In India, Ogwang was exposed to many new technologies. Apart from better oil expellers, boilers and seed crackers, he was shown the latest refining technologies and equipment. Ogwang decided to purchase new equipment for his mill, that would raise his milling capacity to 30 tones per day.
With the new equipment and with the capacity increase, Ogwang’s rented building was becoming too small. To fully accommodate his new level of productivity, Ogwang decided to construct a new building in the Lira Industrial Park.
The land that hosts Ogwang’s building had been unutilized thus far. This gave Ogwang the idea to use the land to construct all the necessary structures and buildings for his business. “I have since acquired a loan and I am carefully using this to build an appropriate processing area and building” says Ogwang. The expected investment from India in these structures and equipment currently amounts to 260 million Ugandan Shillings (approximately US$ 56,000).
This, of course, has not been an easy road. Acquiring a loan, he says, has not been easy. The interest rate is very high (about 25% per year), but not high enough to deter him. He is determined, and fully trusts that he is on the road to success.
Ogwang has taken a lot of interest in SITA activities. Recently, he attended a sunflower quality standards training, organized and conducted by SITA in northern Uganda in April 2016. Ogwang believes that understanding the market standards and dynamics is important, now that he is on the expansion path. He is also very much engaged with the India Solvents Extractors Association (SEA). A business-to-business meeting is planned for July 2016, and through his involvement with SEA, he hopes to meet many new potential partners.
Ogwang is not looking back, and surely he is on the road to success.