Africa-Press – Uganda. Yumbe mango factory is yet to operate four months after its commissioning. The factory was commissioned by President Museveni on January 9.With the bumper harvest for mangoes, the delay to operationalise has affected farmers, who cannot sell their surplus produce
Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview last Friday, Mr Alli Dudu, a farmer in Lodonga Sub-county, said farmers are throwing away the rotten stock.“I am ready to supply the factory with mangoes but if the operationalisation of the plant delays, we are missing this opportunity because our mangoes are soon getting ready and we will incur huge losses,” he said.
Some farmers have, however, resorted to selling the excess mangoes to local markets.Mr Dudu has about 10 acres of mangoes.
Another farmer, Mr Ismail Azubu, said farmers were organised in cooperatives to better chances of their bargaining power for good prices, but this has not yielded fruit.
“We are stranded because there is nothing like meetings and updates on the fate of the cooperatives. We don’t know how we are going to sell our mangoes if the factory starts operations,” he said.
A farmer packs oranges in sacks ready for sale. The construction of a fruit factory in Teso sub-region was expected to create market for the fruits that often rot away. PHOTO BY RICHARD OTIM
On July 6, there was a technical launch of the factory where some mangoes were processed to test the functionality of the equipment and stakeholders were excited about the quality of the finished products.
Speaking to Daily Monitor last Friday, Prof William Kyamuhangire, the director of Food and Nutrition Solution (FoNuS), said mango processing will begin this season but declined to mention the actual date.
“The factory is complete with the equipment installed but the remaining works will not compel us from processing mangoes. Constructions will continue as we proceed with the mangoes,” he said.
Ms Khadija Nakakande, the communications officer at the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads), said engineers are still working on the factory compound, perimeter wall fence and stores.
She said the pending works were not part of the contract because Food and Nutrition Solution (FoNuS), a private company that initiated the project, asked government to support them with the equipment.
“The government through the Naads Secretariat agreed to support them with equipment so we bought and installed the equipment but afterwards FoNuS asked for another support to construct the perimeter wall, stores and the compound, so for that matter we had to go into another agreement that caused the delays in operationalisation of the factory,” she said.
The senior commercial officer, Mr Victor Guma, said the issue of cooperatives has not yet been streamlined. “… Some people from outside the district want to hijack the leadership of the cooperatives, which is causing the delays,” he said.
Mr Guma said Naads Secretariat made it clear that it would give cooperatives first priority to sell mangoes to the factory and there was a plan to have middlemen.