Kayunga pineapple factory pre-tested, ready for operation
Government of Uganda through NAADS has injected UGX 2.5 billion in the construction of a pineapple processing facility in Kayunga district. The factory is a fulfilment of a presidential pledge to Entebbe Miracle Centre – the vision bearers of the initiative that is aimed at assisting fruit farmers from Kayunga and the neighbouring districts engaged in pineapple cultivation to adda value to their produce.
Kayunga district is one of the leading pineapple producing districts in Uganda producing approximately 15,960 tons of pineapple in a single season. However, there has been an outcry from farmers especially during the peak season where farmers earn less than sh.1,000 apiece.
Moses Kakande, a pineapple farmer in Kiti village in Busaale sub county in Kayunga says they earn between sh1,000 and sh1,500 from a mature pineapple sold on the farm which is very little considering the investments on the farms.
“The middlemen who buy the pineapples from the farmers earn better than us because they sell the fruits at more than sh2,000 each in major towns. The peak season is even worse for the farmer because pineapple prices fall to below sh500 per mature fruit, which takes five months to grow”, exclaims Kakande
Like other farmers, Kakande is optimistic that once the pineapple processing factory starts operations, it will save the farmers from the exploitation of the middlemen and enable them to get better prices.
On Friday January 7th, 2022, a team of engineers from NAADS, Makerere University and contractors from Musa Body Machinery Uganda Ltd, Balix Imports and Exports Ltd, and Plumb base Uganda Ltd carried out a pre-testing exercise on the factory to ascertain its readiness for operation.
According to the Eng. Michael Shuwu the Value Chain Development Officer NAADS, the pre-testing exercise was aimed at testing the functionality of the processing plant to ensure that everything is in order before the factory is commissioned and handed over to the owners for operation.
“All the processing equipment has been fully installed and functional, power and water are already connected, the receiving area for raw materials and the storage area for finished products have all been completed”, explained Eng. Shuwu
According to Eng. Shuwu, Government through NAADS has invested approximately sh.2.5 billion to construct this factory. The factory has a capacity to process 5 tons of fresh pineapples per day on an 8-hour working time. He says the processing equipment cost sh.1.5bn while sh.800 million was spent on installation of the solar water pumping system, electricity connection, finishing works of the factory building including the offices, fencing of the factory and compound works.
Prof. William Kyamuhangire who represented representative of Makerere University said Kayunga pineapple factory is ready to start operations according to what they discovered during the pre-testing exercise. Prof. Kyamuhangire says a few glitches were discovered during the exercise and these are going to be rectified by the contractors as soon as possible.
“The plant is technically sound, doing what it was meant to do. It only needs a bit of fine tuning in a few areas and then it can start operation”, said Prof. Kyamuhangire.
Eng. Shuwu said after the successful pre-testing of the plant, the next phase will be carrying out the test runs which will take a period of eight days. During this period, the contractors will train the private sector beneficiaries including Entebbe Miracle Center and Semu Agrotech Uganda Ltd on how to run the factory before its handed over to them in a few months.
Kayunga district local government and Kayunga District Farmer’s Association have mobilised more than 2,000 farmers to provide the facility with the enough raw materials. The Kayunga district agricultural officer Moses Kibumba is optimistic that the processing facility will create job opportunities for residents and spur growth among other business ventures in the area.
Kamya Jamil Lutalo, another successful farmer in the area, praised President Museveni and the NAADS secretariat for extending the facility in the areas. He said as farmers they longed for the establishment of the fruit factory in the area.