Income and Food Security thanks to the Moringa Tree

Uganda has an unemployment rate of between 61 and 83 per cent, and young people have few prospects. Faced with this hopeless situation, many young people turn to crime. At the same time, the country has to cope with food shortages and the consequences of people’s unbalanced diet. As part of the Caritas project, moringa plantations are established on the prison estates. The moringa tree is rich in nutrients and can be used, for example, in the production of cosmetics. The prison inmates earn money from their work on the plantations. In addition, they learn how to set up their own moringa enterprise after their release. 


Country / Region / Place
Gulu and Soroti districts, northern Uganda

Target group
2,000 prisoners and 100 prison staff (including 160 women); 400 patients, 15 employees and 30 committee members in health centres; 900 students and 60 teachers; 70 employees of local partner organisations; indirectly around 250,000 people

Funding requirement
CHF 598,198

Project duration
01.03.2017 to 29.02.2020 (36 months)

Project number

Project objectives
The project contributes to food security, the creation of income opportunities and the reintegration of young women and men into society after their release from prison

Project coordinator
Kathrin Wyss, Tel: 041 419 22 39, kwyssnot shown@caritasto make life hard for spam


Background information

Uganda is considered as one of the world’s poorest countries. Despite its rapidly growing economy, the emerging economic centres represent only one side of the coin. In rural areas, far from urban business centres, there is great poverty. In the north and east of Uganda, the absolute number of people living in poverty has in fact increased between 2006 and 2013 from 68 per cent to 84 per cent. In the event of an economic shock, around 43 per cent of the Ugandan population are at risk of sinking into poverty.

Added to this is the fact that the country’s government is characterised by authoritarian policies and patronage, public service delivery breaks down due to corruption and the huge population growth, and the repercussions of the civil war continue to shape the political landscape. The conflict over resources is only one of numerous consequences of the civil war. Problems such as unequal treatment based on gender continue to be an everyday occurrence in Uganda.

As a country experiencing enormous population growth, Uganda also faces another great challenge: providing employment for its young people. 77 per cent of the population are below the age of 30. They often have insufficient training, unemployment of between 61 per cent and 83 per cent is high, and young people are faced with a great lack of opportunities. In view of this hopeless situation, many young people turn to crime to keep their head above water, and end up in overcrowded and understaffed prisons. As a result of their stay in prison, the young men and women lose their social status, are stigmatised after their release, and end up on the margins of society. Consequently, the rate of recidivism is high.

In addition, the food security situation in Uganda is precarious. Around 81 per cent of Uganda’s working population are involved in subsistence agriculture. However, despite fertile soils, food production is limited. Land disputes, and the associated lack of access to land, as well as the growing population and climate change all put pressure on food production. Food security is thus no longer assured. But even if it were, people’s diet is often unbalanced and high in carbohydrates. Important nutrients, minerals and proteins are lacking, which can lead to nutritional deficiency symptoms and health problems, especially among the population groups most in need of protection, or most exposed, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, sick people, children or prison inmates.

New solutions to deal with these problems effectively are therefore required. An intervention is particularly urgent in the Gulu and Soroti districts, where prisons are severely overcrowded and poverty is particularly great. The nutrient-rich moringa tree offers a holistic solution as an important source of food.


What are we doing?

The moringa tree is a fast-growing and drought resistant plant. Both its leaves and seeds can be used in a variety of ways, in particular as a food supplement, to treat contaminated water, or in cosmetic products. Moringa is rich in vitamins, magnesium, protein as well as other nutrients and is enjoying a steady growth in demand worldwide. This makes the plant suitable both as a source for ensuring food security and for generating an income.

The present project focuses on various different themes: In a first project component, around 3,500 vulnerable people are made aware of the numerous benefits of the moringa tree both for health and nutrition. Selected prisons, schools and health centres are encouraged to improve the quality of their food provision with moringa. Furthermore, public moringa information events in the same institutions serve to make a broader public aware of the advantages of the consumption and production of moringa.

Moreover, moringa trees are planted in the gardens of schools and health centres. These are used, on the one hand, for demonstration purposes regarding the cultivation and harvesting of the individual components, and on the other hand they supply the institutions concerned with moringa products, thus enabling them to provide a healthy diet. The gardens are managed by trained committees and clubs. In addition, large moringa plantations are created on the estates belonging to the prisons. This benefits the prison inmates. They can build up savings by working on the plantations, which will make their socio-economic reintegration easier after their stay in prison. In addition, they learn about setting up their own moringa business after their release.

In order to complete the value chain, Caritas Switzerland, working with its partners in Gulu and Soroti, constructs premises for the manufacture of moringa products and equips each of them with an oil press, pulverisation machines and other technical aids. In Gulu, a drying chamber will also be built. Processing the moringa components in these production facilities creates jobs and thus additional income-generating opportunities for the local population, while at the same time the profits from the product sales flow back into the project.

Caritas Switzerland’s partner organisations train committee members and prison staff as trainers. These trained committee members and prison employees then conduct training sessions for those interested, which aim to give them the basic skills to set up their own moringa business. The training sessions deal with all important aspects, from sowing via cultivation to processing, packaging, storage and marketing of the moringa products. The training is closely monitored by the partner organisations’ experts.

An added benefit is that the project strengthens the structures of the local partner organisations. They learn about implementing quality control of the moringa products and complying with important hygiene standards and international certification, and conduct market analyses. In addition, their expertise regarding the establishment of a social enterprise is strengthened, their knowledge about moringa cultivation broadened, and their organisational structure is improved.


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