Fruit farmers in Yumbe District might no longer have to worry about their mango harvests going to waste.
This follows the unveiling of a $400,000 (about Shs1 billion) mobile fruit-processing truck, which will be traversing the district to process farmers’ mangoes and pineapples.
The truck comes fully-equipped with a generator, water treatment cylinder and a fruit-processing unit to preserve the pulp.
“About 50 per cent of the mangoes grown in Uganda go to waste.
Therefore, we approached our partners in the UK to design this machine to enable us get to areas that grow mangoes,” Prof John Muyonga, the dean at the School of Food Technology Nutrition & Bio-engineering, said. The UK company, Alvan Blanch, made the fruit processing truck, according to specifications sent by the school.
Ass Prof William Kyamuhangire, the manager of Makerere University Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre, said the machine is a complete factory.
“It takes in raw fruit and delivers an intermediate fruit pulp,” Prof Kyamuhangire said.
The district officials had years earlier approached the university’s School of Food Technology Nutrition and Bio-engineering to address the problem of excess supply of mangoes rotting and hence going to waste.
Farmers who will take their fruits to the truck, which is a project of the Makerere Incubation Centre, will be paid on the spot at the prevailing market rates.
Yumbe is one of the leading five mango-growing districts in Uganda.
However, due to the rough murram roads, the farmers have not been able to transport the surplus fruit to far off urban areas where there is a ready market.
The district also lacks electricity, which means farmers cannot keep their fruits fresh in refrigerators.
Plans by the government to build a fruit factory in Soroti District have never taken off since 2009. Earlier this year, the government of South Korea offered to fund the proposed $7.4m (Shs18.4 billion) factory.