The Government, through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), has installed state-of-the-art fruit processing equipment in Kapeeka, Nakaseke district, to provide a market for fruit farmers.
The facility processes 2 metric tonnes of fruit per hour. The facility started in 2017 by supporting and training entrepreneurs in the production of beverages, mainly processed mangoes, pineapples, bananas, and related products.
According to Apollo Segawa, the chief executive officer of the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD), the facility will give farmers in greater Luwero an opportunity to sell their fruits and bananas for value-added and provide a market for their produce.
It will also provide the farmers with technical advice and nurture entrepreneurs to add value to fruits to make beverages.
“We used to operate as a cottage industry handling small quantities of fruits produced within Luwero and Nakaseke districts, but with the modern equipment that we have received from NAADS, we will be able to process 2 metric tons of fruits per hour and nurture more entrepreneurs to produce beverages,” said Segawa.
The facility processes mangoes, pineapples, and bananas into different products, mainly juices. Segawa says with the new equipment, they will be producing packed juices for both the local and regional markets.
Before government intervention through NAADS, the facility was producing less than 30,000 litres of juice a day. With the new equipment, it is expected to produce up to 10,000 litres a day.
The executive director of NAADS, Dr Samuel Mugasi, says the Kapeka fruit factory is one of the many value-addition initiatives by the Government through NAADS aimed at promoting value addition, reducing post-harvest losses, and ultimately providing a market for fruit farmers.
“Since 2014, we have supported our farmers with fruit seedlings, mainly pineapple suckers, mango, citrus, and apple seedlings, which have resulted in increased production. To ensure value for money and also provide a market for fruit farmers, we have established fruit processing facilities in fruit-growing regions. We have one in Yumbe, another in Kayunga, this one in Nakaseke, in Nwoya, construction is starting soon and others in the pipeline for Greater Masaka and Busoga,” Dr Mugasi explained.
Speaking during the technical commissioning of the fruit factory, Dr Mugasi said the Government, through NAADS, has spent sh3.4b to procure the processing equipment at the Kapeeka fruit factory. The factory is expected to start full-scale production before the end of 2022.
CURAD’s Segawa says Greater Luwero alone has a sufficient supply of fruits that will be the raw materials for juice production.
He said CURAD has mobilised over 20,000 fruit and banana farmers in Greater Luwero to supply the factory with the raw materials, and plans are underway to mobilize more farmer supplier groups to produce pineapples, mangoes, and bananas.
The factory is expected to employ over 20 permanent staff and another 20 casual workers.
Farmers in the region that were interviewed were excited about the new equipment, saying it would enable them to sell more of their products, which sometimes go to waste due to the small capacity of the old equipment.
Lunkuse Mariam, a banana farmer in Namasengere village, Kisimula parish, Kapeeka sub-county, says she has been supplying the Kapeeka factory with bananas (kayinja variety) for the past four years.
“I am excited and so expectant about the expansion of the factory because they will be able to take more of my bananas, which sometimes go to waste because of low capacity,” explained Lunkuse.
Mubiru William, another banana farmer in Kapeeka with 10 acres, says the factory has been buying from him a maximum of 1 ton of bananas, yet he harvests up to 8 tons in a season, leaving the rest to go to waste in the absence of other buyers.
He is, however, optimistic that once the new equipment starts full operations, it will buy all the 8 tons he harvests from his garden.
Mubiru has, however, appealed to the government to reduce the high fuel prices, which he says have resulted in increased transport costs from their gardens to the factory and ultimately affected their income.