Sunday February 25 2018

Profiting from pineapples

A farmer group with their machine that presse

A farmer group with their machine that presses pineapples to make wine. File photo 

By Fred Muzaale

Pineapple fruit can be eaten as a dessert and in other instances the pineapple juice can be squeezed out of the fruit and drank.
However, 400 farmers, under Kangulumira Area Cooperative Enterprises (KASE) in Kangulumira Sub-County, Kayunga District have gone farther by adding value to their pineapples by making wine from the pineapple juice.
All the KASE members are pineapple farmers. Kaggwa Miggo, the production manager of the cooperative enterprise, says before 2000, they used to sell their pineapples to middlemen, who used to pay them little money for their produce.
“The situation was even worse, during the in season times when the market was flooded with pineapples. They would pay us as little as Shs200 for our fruits,” Kaggwa recounts.
Nevertheless, in 2000, they decided to come together to form KASE as one way of pulling resources to start adding value to their pineapples.

The process of making wine
Kaggwa says that to kick start the project, they bought a juice extractor plus a boiler. They also bought some containers. However, government appreciated what they were doing and later gave them support.
It bought them another boiler, and an assortment of machinery to use in making the wine. First, Kaggwa says, ripe pineapples are harvested and washed with clean water.
They are then peeled to remove the outer skin. They are then sliced into pieces and fed into the juice extractor.
The juice is then put into the boiler (300 litre capacity), where it is boiled between 85 and 90 degrees centigrade. The juice is not boiled up to 100 degrees centigrade because this can lead to destruction and loss of its nutritional value.
It is then put in another tank to cool, which takes between three to four hours.
It is then transferred to a fermentation room, which is very dark (without any light). For fermentation to take place, the environment should be without light, Kaggwa says.
It is put in jerry cans and yeast wine plus yeast nutrient are added. It is here that fermentation takes place.
For every 20 litres of juice, 10 grammes of yeast wine are applied.
However, while in the darkroom it is changed thrice from one container to another.
This helps to remove the particles that settle at the bottom of the containers.
After six months, the wine is ready for drinking but he says they package it at nine months.
At nine months, he says, they apply a preservative called sodium benzoate so that it maintains that alcohol content or it doesnt grow. He however says they have wine that has been there for three years.

Types of wine
Kaggwa says they make three types of wine namely, dry wine, in which they do not add any sugar.
Another type is the medium sweet wine, in which little sugar is added and lastly, sweet wine, where a lot of sugar is added to the juice before it is fermented.
He says, however, that sweet wine has the biggest market. They pack their wine in 750 millilitre bottles under the trade name Kangulumira wine. The 750 ml bottle goes for Shs10,000 each.

Kaggwa says in a week they can sell about 300 bottles and earn about Shs3m and in a month they earn about Shs12m.
When they deduct all the costs they remain with about Shs8.5m a month. This is shared among members, who contribute the fruits.

Kaggwa says tourists who visit Kalagala falls on River Nile, form the biggest number of their customers although they also sell to locals who buy in small quantities.
He says the market is still limited because their product has not been certified by Uganda National bureau of standards (UNBS).
This he says is because they have been lacking some machinery, which he says; however, they got recently from government as a donation.

Solar drying
Caroline Nakintu is a renowned pineapple farmer in Katikamu, Luwero District. Until last year, Nakintu was making losses as most of her pineapples would rot away due to over ripening.
“The fruits would mature at once and selling all became tricky. Most of them would rot away,” says Nakintu. However towards October last year, the mother of four visited Kayunga and there she learnt how to preserve the pineapples.
“From Kayunga, I bought a solar drier unit. Today, we dry most of the pineapples, package them and sell at a better price,” she says.
Miggo has also revealed, they solar dry some of the pineapples and make some money. “Some pineapples are selected for solar drying,” Miggo says.