The government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) is constructing a multi-billion pineapple juice processing factory in Kayunga District amid challenges of low production and wrong location.
The Busaale Pineapple Juice Processing Factory located in Kayunga Sub-county is being constructed with an aim of assisting pineapple farmers to get ready market for their produce in a bid to increase household incomes.
The factory was a presidential pledge to the people of Kayunga District and is expected to be commissioned later this year.
However, local leaders, agriculture and Naads officials are pondering over sustainability of the factory given the low production of pineapples in the area.
Some leaders in Kayunga are also questioning the procedure that was used to select Busaale Village as the location of the factory instead of Kangulumira Sub-county, where there are many pineapple farmers.
The Naads coordinator for central region, Ms Alice Nyanzi, while on an inspection visit to the factory on Wednesday said there is need to mobilise farmers to grow more pineapples so that the factory remains operational.
“Most of the machinery for the factory have been assembled but when we carried out a test-run, we discovered that there were some machines that need to be fixed. We are therefore going to fix them plus putting final touches on the construction work ,” Ms Nyanzi said.
Ms Ann Bulya, the Kayunga District senior agriculture officer, said the factory’s production capacity is 16 tonnes of pineapple per day, which is quite high.
“We are working with Kayunga District Farmers’ Association to mobilise farmers to increase on pineapple production every season. The factory would also benefit pineapple farmers in neighbouring districts,” she said.
Although Kayunga District (particularly Kangulumira sub-county) is referred to as the ‘pineapple hub’ of Uganda, most pineapple farmers there are small holders, who own between one to three acres.
Currently, most of the farmers sell their fruit to traders from Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Dr Samuel Mugasi, the Naads Executive director, who also visited a number of farmers supported by Naads, said the visit was aimed at ascertaining the preparedness of farmers for the coming planting season.
“Many of the farmers are not well advised. Naads will be sending planting materials to farmers for food security,” Dr Mugasi said.
With a population of about 350,000 people, Kayunga District’s unemployment rate currently stands at 5 per cent with most residents engaged in subsistence agriculture.
Last year in April, government opened Soroti Fruit Factory in Teso Sub-region to tap into the abundant citrus fruits for commercial production of oranges and mangoes.
However, the joy of farmers, who had anticipated to reap from the sale of their produce, has since died out due to lack of market for the fruits.