YUMBE- When fruit farmers in Yumbe District received news of the construction of a fruit factory aimed at value addition three years ago, they hoped the project would improve their earnings.
Their hope, however, is fading since construction of the Yumbe fruit processing plant in Lodonga Sub-county, Yumbe District, has stalled.
The project, launched in 2015, stalled at roofing level and the buildings are covered by thick grass that has become habitat for reptiles and rodents.
The Director Food and Nutrition Solution (FoNuS), Prof William Kyamuhaagire, in an interview at the weekend, said the project needed more time.
“We are hopeful that the work is completed at the end of this year, including the installation of the equipment and by next year in May, procurement and processing of the mangoes will start,” he said.
He said the project is expected to cost $4 million (about Shs17.6b) which will cover the building, equipment, utilities and services.
The project is being undertaken by FoNuS, a company owned by Makerere University lecturers from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering.
Many farmers were encouraged to grow more mangoes after they were assured of a ready market for their processed juice.
“The person who says the project has stalled doesn’t know what it takes. We know farmers have been waiting for quite some time but let us be sure of what we are doing because the project is costly to set up,” he added.
Mr Rashid Kawawa, the district production coordinator for the district, said such a factory cannot operate without a cooperative body in the district.
Farmers have been mobilised to form Aringa Fruit Farmers’ Cooperative Society Ltd to manage it.
“The body will represent farmers’ issues, including fixing of prices and flow of money from the factory to the farmers. We call all the farmers with mangoes to register with the cooperatives for easy coordination,” he said.
He said other fruits like citrus and pineapples shall as well be processed in the factory.
He added that another factory to package table mangoes has been built in Kei Sub-county where mangoes are preserved for longer than two years.
Mr Kasim Sebbi, the Lodonga Sub-county chairperson, said Pani Village offered three acres of land for setting up the factory.
“The project will help the farmers to process their mangoes, create employment opportunities, increase income status of the farmers, add value to mangoes that are eaten raw and increase local revenue base for the sub-county and the district,” he said.
Yumbe is known for the production of good quality local mangoes but farmers are concerned that the mangoes are rotting.