Juliet Okaasai dreams big in turmeric and piggery projects
Last Updated on: 7th October 2022, 08:42 pm
Before starting her turmeric enterprise, she recalled there were “so many” people in the area growing turmeric.
Kumi – October 7, 2022: One way to transform a community or nation is by having an idea and planning how to execute it.
Today, several businesses and entrepreneurs exist: from small-scale to large-scale enterprises, those behind them have moved ahead not only to create jobs but to contribute to the economic growth of the country.
They are also concerned about growth and expansion, and how to handle setbacks in the short and long terms.
In Osioda South Division, Kumi Municipality is Juliet Okaasai, wife to State Minister for Energy who also doubles as the Kumi County MP, Sidronius Okaasai Opolot.
Speaking exclusively to TND News from her farm in Osioda, Juliet says she started farming as a “hobby” and later realised she can turn it into a money-making business – where she can get some income.
“So, I have been trying different crops, among them I happened to find turmeric and I planted half an acre,” she said, adding that when it matured, she was not able to harvest it after the season.
It went on for a second year and after is when she decided to harvest it. “I chose to try, crash it locally to produce a powder.”
With the help of two women, she bought a mortar and they were able to start producing (pounding) to get powder. She would later invite some people, the neighbours to interest them.
“After that, it did not pick up as fast as we [had] thought,” she recalled.
This was [done], according to her at the beginning of 2021.
Because she didn’t get the market as fast as she needed, she reduced the turmeric plantation to a quarter while planning for marketing and to plant it bigger the following season.
“I have been keeping on, I started supplying supermarkets and some people helped me sell around and I realised some bit of money and planted a larger acreage the following season,” she says.
Aware that using a rudimentary method to produce the powder was a bit difficult and tedious, she decided to get a small machine [grinder] at shs1m. It is the same machine she is still using now.
“In fact, at some point, I had to get a man instead of two women to crash,” she further recounts.
Looking into the future, Juliet says she’s hoping to get a better machine to help her produce turmeric powder to meet the [current] market demands.
On why she has chosen to do turmeric and add value to it, she said: “I did some research and made me realize that turmeric has got better benefits especially health benefits. That is why I chose to do turmeric because it has not even been very common, very many people don’t even know about it.”
Because of the health benefits, she emphasizes that it is why it should be put in the markets more.
Turmeric — and especially its most active compound, curcumin — have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Marketing her well-packaged brand, she said has been a challenge. However, she has hope and still researching the best marketing strategies.
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Before starting her turmeric enterprise, she recalled there were “so many” people in the area growing turmeric. With more than ten families doing the same now, she said “we can be able to pull production from different people, families to increase the production”.
She also believed that more people will come on board and that would be a big boost for her in terms of getting raw materials when she starts large-scale production soon.
But how did she start the project and how much was available? Shs400, 000 was her starting capital which she used to buy one sack of tubers in half an acre. Of the capital, she said she used at least shs100, 000 for garden preparation, planting and other essentials.
How much is she making from turmeric powder? A pack of 200gm goes for shs10, 000, 50gm sold at shs3, 500 and 500gm is being sold at shs20, 000.
“The moment I break through with market, I know everyone will get on board. Right now, it is the marketing issue that is why I need to invest more. More energy needs to be invested in finding the market.”
Alongside turmeric, she is also actively doing piggery, among other ventures.
With 33 piglets and a dozen adults, the retired teacher is sure of income while doing what she likes to transform the communities around her.
In a tour of her piggery grange, she told TND News that for better meat without too many fats, she feeds the pigs vegetables, especially sweet potato leaves.
She describes the sweet potato leaves as “very healthful” and “our pigs will not have a lot of fats because of the greens they are fed on”.