Universities in bid to create packaging from harvested maize fields

EXPERTS from Bangor University are collaborating with a Ugandan university to bring food packaging made from waste maize to the country.

The Welsh university has already developed a range of food packaging made out of grass in partnership with Waitrose. They will now turn to using the leaves, stalks and cobs left in maize fields after harvesting to provide smallholders in Uganda with packaging.

Dr Adam Charlton, senior research fellow at the University’s biocomposites centre said, “The green egg boxes and other moulded food packaging produced from our original concept can be found in Waitrose supermarkets across the country and  have been well received by customers.

“This project is an opportunity to share our experience of collaborative research to help Uganda’s emerging bioeconomy to develop further. This type of technology transfer can lead to new products which will hopefully create a new income stream for some of Uganda’s agricultural small holders.’’

The project will be funded by the UK Government’s Department for Intenrational Development (DFID), with the project partnering with Ugandan packaging firm Oribags, agricultural machinery manufacturer Musabody, and UK company NER Ltd.

Dr Stephen Lwasa from Makerere University’s, college of agriculture & environmental sciences said, “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 other value chain actors. This is because post-harvest losses will be reduced, the product quality will be maintained, and opportunities to market these packaging materials and products in high end markets, will increase streams of incomes for the players involved.

“I call upon the project partners (NAFICI, Oribags and Musabody) to give this project their very best, and also call upon the support of more stakeholders to make this dream a reality”