The establishment of an avocado oil processing factory in Kazinga Bweyogerere, Wakiso district is good news to many farmers across the country, who have been struggling to find ready market for their produce.
The plant, with a capacity of processing 10 tonnes of avocado per day, is involved in the manufacturing of avocado oil for export.
David Bahati, the state minister of industry, said the establishment of the Avolio Industries in Kazinga near Namanve Industrial Park, has given a lot of hope and excitement to the country due to the fact that many farmers have been producing avocado, but selling it cheaply on the local market.
Bahati said this after a tour of the new machinery at the plant.
He was taken around the facility by Hasan Al-Kailani, the co-founder and managing partner of Avolio Industries.
Most of the machinery is still under installation and testing. Bahati pledged on behalf of the Government that they would be able to help the investor to ensure they embark on full production.
He asked the company to work closely with the ministry to ensure they benefit from the many available incentives.
“The Government has incentives in place to help investors and manufacturers achieve their goals, including tax holidays and other supportive incentives like tax waivers on imports of inputs. We wantthese investors to benefit from this arrangement,” Bahati said.
The company buys both local and Hass avocado from different parts of the country.
“This is an important plant because it links well with avocado farmers, especially the much-valued Hass avocado, which is a precious crop,” Bahati said after a tour of the factory.
The minister commended the management, saying although it was not yet in full force, the beginning of production was giving a lot of hope to farmers across the country.
He said because Uganda is a landlocked country, export of the crop was unprofitable since it has limited shelf life especially if one used land or sea transport, yet air transport is expensive.
“The management is doing a good job. They are just starting, but we hope this establishment will be able to help the farmers across the country,” Bahati said.
“It is expanding the country’s list of exports for foreign exchange as well as providing a market for the crop and, therefore, boosting the incomes of farmers, which will improve household incomes,” Bahati said.
He added that the Government needed such investors who will help to get people, especially in the rural areas, out of poverty.
“Now that the avocado oil processing factory is here, we are appealing to the farmers to make use of it and grow more avocado,” he said.
Bahati pledged that the ministry would co-ordinate with their counterparts in the agriculture ministry to ensure the production of avocado is increased.
“I have been assured that the factory will demand more supplies and would need tonnes to process oil. It is important that the farmers are mobilised to be able to produce enough avocado for the factory,” he said.
Al-Kailani told the minister that the factory started production last year and that they were still installing more machinery before going into full force production.
He said the plant has a capacity of processing 10 tonnes of avocado per day.
He explained that they had already established sources from various parts of Uganda, with major suppliers in Fort Portal, Mbarara, Kasese, Mubende, Kyenjojo and other places.
Al-Kailani said there is a lot of avocado in Uganda and they were ready to purchase it.
“We have agents who buy from farmers and transport the fruits in boxes up to here where we process them into avocado oil in different acidity levels,” he said.
Their products include Extra Virgin Oil used for edible or cooking oil and salads as well as industrial oil (crude oil) which is used in industrial and pharmaceutical industries and for cosmetics.
The products are produced using several processes and extract oil from the fruit using traditional methods without any chemical additives.
Much of their products are going to be exported to the large markets like the US and Europe. Currently, he explained, the company was exporting to Europe in small volumes.
Al-Kailani said commercial avocado farmers were resorting to Hass avocado because it gives more returns than the local varieties.
He encouraged more farmers to grow Hass avocado, saying dealers will have an option to export unprocessed fruits by sea.
He added that the idea of starting a processing factory started when he discovered that for export market, local varieties could not withstand long stay in transit, yet there was abundance of avocado in Uganda.
“We want to promise our Ugandan farmers that we are ready to take on whatever amounts they grow, especially the Hass avocado, they have a ready market,” he said.