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April 29, 2007

Uganda set to increase Aloe Vera processing, exports

Members of the Uganda Commercial Aloe Vera Farmers Association are to start exporting processed Aloe Vera products to Japan and Korea. The Director of Uganda Commercial Aloe Vera Farmers Association, Hajji Ali Sessanga said that the association had secured $600,000 from a foreign lender to purchase a machine that would process Aloe Vera into various products for export and local consumption.

The aloe plant's products have a number of health benefits and have been used for medicinal purposes around the world for more than 3,500 years. A vast amount of research has been done on aloe, showing the plant's products to be effective and significant in the treatment of various ailments and skin disorders, as well as in the making of cosmetics.

Sessanga said the $300,000 machine worth would process Aloe Vera into toothpaste, medicinal liquids, cosmetics and animal feeds. He said the machine had the capacity to crush harvests from 60 hectares (144 acres) per month. Uganda's Aloe Vera acreage coverage is 380 hectares (912 acres). He added that association members would also export Aloe Vera flowers to Sudan where there is a market for them for the production of Aloe Vera herbal tea.

Sessanga said that part of the loan would among other things be used to boost production so as to sustain supply in both local and international markets. "The association entered into a partnership with Southern Fields International of Texas,U.S., to strengthen the Aloe Vera business in Uganda. We have already started buying the crop from farmers from various districts and once the machine arrives here in May (2007), processing of the product will start immediately," he said.

About 130,000 farmers in 26 districts of Uganda are currently involved in the growing of the crop. According to Sessanga, a hectare (2.4 acres) of land accommodates 4,000 Aloe Vera plants. Each plant produces five kilogrammes of Aloe Vera and each kilogramme fetches 300 Ugandan shillings (US 20 cents).

Ssesanga said that farmers were previously being discouraged from producing on a large scale because there was a small market for the plant. "But as we start processing, farmers are advised to return to massive production because the market is now available."

The Monitor

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