Fruit farmers in Yumbe district have cause to smile after Makerere University recently launched a mobile fruit factory in the district.
The facility, stationed at Apo sub-county headquarters, will be touring the 13 sub-counties in the district. The truck, fully-equipped with a generator, water treatment cylinder and a fruit-processing unit to preserve the pulp, cost $400,000 (about Shs 1 billion) and can handle mangoes, pineapples, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables.
In the district, mangoes were weighed and the owners were paid Shs 200 per kilogramme, far better than the Shs 1,000 they used to get for a basin full of mangoes. A basin now goes for Shs 20,000. However, Yumbe has more supply of mangoes than what the processing plant can handle. Farmers now demand for more mobile processing trucks or a large stationary factory.
"On the first day we bought about 14 tonnes and we processed them for two days. On the second and third day, 360 and 200 farmers respectively brought mangoes each with an average of 35 kilogrammes. The materials are too much and I don't think we can finish them," said Dr Hussein Balimunsi, the Technical Manager on the ground.
Officials said the juice, which is packed in 100-litre plastic containers, is to be sold to Kampala companies that can make retail packs. The mobile fruit processor is the first of its kind in Uganda.