Like Kenya, Uganda is currently experiencing a sugar crisis, with a kilogram going for as high as Shs7, 000.
However, an innovative youth has come up with natural and affordable sugar from a plant called Stevia.
Julius Nyanzi, 27, who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany in 2014 from Makerere University, says sugar from Stevia is not only affordable, but also has several medicinal components.
Born and raised in Rubaga Division, Kampala, Nyanzi is a proprietor of Prof Bioresearch that is located in Lugala-Masanafu, Rubaga Division.
Nyanzi, who is popularly known as Prof Green Sugar, produces two types of sugar from Stevia; Pure Stevia liquid of 30ml which he says is equivalent to 10kgs of artificial (traditional sugar) sugar and pure Stevia Powder of 90gms which he says is equivalent to 20kgs of artificial sugar. Pure Stevia Powder is also in 180gms which is equivalent to 40kgs of artificial sugar.
“90gms go for Shs18, 000 while 180gms go for Shs25, 000,” Nyanzi revealed in an interview with Business Focus on Saturday at his Equatorial mall based shop. The 30ml Pure Stevia liquid goes for Shs3, 000.
He adds that he gives free Stevia seedlings to his customers.
“Stevia is 200 times sweeter than artificial sugar and three drops of liquid Stevia are equivalent to two spoonful of artificial sugar,” he reveals, noting that his Stevia powder sugar expires in a period of 2 – 3 years while the liquid one expires in a year.
He explains that diabetic people can take his natural sugar for it has no problems unlike the artificial one.
How He Discovered Stevia
Nyanzi says his love for research and science dates back to his childhood days. He notes that it was during his O’ Level at Old Kampala SS that he developed a dream of finding a solution for diabetes after learning that many people were dying from it.
This saw him study Physics, Chemistry and Biology at Maryland High, Entebbe for his A’ Level.
After his University studies, Nyanzi embarked on research with Buloba based African Growth Technology (AGT), where he was working as a consultant, but earning a monthly salary of Shs200, 000.
He says his research efforts helped AGT receive funding worth US$1m.
It is during this time that he developed an idea of making sugar from Stevia. “While at University, I learnt about Stevia through reading. It dates back from colonial times in Uganda,” he says, adding that he embarked on the hunt for Stevia, but couldn’t get it until 2011.
“I decided to look for Stevia everywhere until got it through a friend in the US in 2011. He sent me leaves and luckily, I had perfected into Tissue Culture; so I got the first Stevia seedlings through Tissue Culture I was so happy,” he explains.
After the successful re-invention of Stevia, he says, he went back to Makerere University with his solution, where it was recommended for various diseases.
He says he also received clearance identification from the National Chemotherapeutic Research Laboratories (NCRL) in Wandegeya.
He reveals that the natural plant was finally found in Kasese district after a long time.
“It grows in countries with Tropical climate including Brazil and Paraguay among others. In Uganda, it is mainly found in Kasese, but can be grown in wetlands as well,” he says, noting that it only takes three months before it can be harvested just like tea leaves.
“Stevia needs a lot of water and is best grown on Sandy fertile soils with frequent watering” he says, noting that he is already training farmers on how to grow the wonder plant.
He says he is yet to achieve his dream of seeing a diabetic free country, but his project now employs about 25 youths directly and many others indirectly.
He adds that he has not only travelled to various countries, but also acquired enormous knowledge on Stevia.
“At my age what I have acquired is worth it though I still work hard to achieve more. I have acquired property, I have been to several international platforms at the African Union, Europe and the US and locally I have met prominent people,” he says.
He says his products will go down in the history of Uganda due to their health benefits.
“Stevia doesn’t affect the body at all, it doesn’t promote pressure nor does it ferment acids so it saves people from ulcers and cancer among others,” he adds.
He claims that there is a deliberate effort to sabotage his innovation because his natural sugar is giving artificial sugar dealers sleepless nights.
“Such a project would be a priority for NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation in Uganda. It has the potential to substitute some cash crops, but there is no good will,” he says, adding that he is disappointed that his innovation is not much appreciated at home compared to the way it has been received outside Uganda.
“There is no good will from the government, I get offers outside Uganda, but in Uganda, people just despise you. They don’t embrace us,” he says.
He urges youth to focus on their dreams.
He says he has a few subsistence growers in Uganda, but many of the out growers are from the neighbouring countries.
“In Uganda, I have out growers only in Luweero who are whites and others came from Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya; they own between 10 to 50 acres of land where they grow Stevia,” he says. He says he has already acquired himself an acre of land for study and research.
For More Information, Contact: Julius Nyanzi on Mob: 0779519652/0702061652/0702152152, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit his shop on Bombo Road, Equatorial Mall, Level2, Shop 152