Pineapples are one of the succulent fruits enjoyed by many people. But the Ugandan pineapple has also been claimed to be among the tastiest in East Africa and beyond.
As we go into the dry season, pineapples are also being harvested and with their presence in every fresh food market, vendors are saying that they are at their peak season. Around 6:30pm at St Balikuddembe market, lorries full of pineapples continuously flow in as vendors flood them to get the cheapest seller. There, the smallest pineapple goes for Shs300 or three of them at Shs1000.
Medium-sized pineapples are at Shs1,000 and big ones between Shs1,500 and Shs2,000.
Ritah Nakalyango, a vendor at the same market, however, notes that depending on the day’s supply, the prices change. “Currently, they [pineapples] are a lot on the market, so the prices are low. The demand too is currently still good,” she says, amid serving her other customers. At her stall, a medium-sized pineapple is at Shs500 and a big one at Shs2,500. At Kalerwe market, the supply is equally high. A medium-sized pineapple is between Shs1,500 and Shs2,000 while three pineapples can be bought at Shs5,000.
At Nakasero market, the prices are a bit higher, with a difference of about Shs500 from that at St Balikudembe, depending on one’s bargaining power.
From vendors selling pineapples from their wooden wheelbarrows, the prices dramatically rise. A medium-sized pineapple is between Shs1,000 and Shs2,500, a small one at Shs1,000. A piece of a big pineapple is Shs500 and a half of a small one at Shs500 as well.
As for people vending pineapples from small pick-up trucks that normally pack on roadsides, five pineapples are at Shs10,000 and each between Shs2,000 and Shs2,500 depending on their size.
Approach the market
Moses Ssendaula, a pineapple farmer in Kikyusa, Luweero, has six acres of pineapples, most of which are ready for harvest. When asked how he plans to get market for his pineapples, Ssendaula shares that though some farmers sell the harvest to buyers as a whole in acres at a given price that is not the strategy he will be using. “What I will do is to take the harvest to the market myself. I have two small pick-up trucks where I normally put the pineapples and then have workers vend them in different places. He notes additionally that a pineapple that a farmer would have sold at Shs800 for example, can be bought at Shs300 or less from the garden and so, it is such cases that he is trying to run away from.
Pineapples can be used in a wide range of things and industries. It can be used in the pharmaceutical/medical industry for syrups among other medicinal uses. In the beverage industry, it can be used for making wine, juice and other beverages. At the household level, it is a common fruit used to make fruit salads. In confectionery, it is used for flavouring and can be used in cooking and making a wide range of dishes and can also be used to make fruit jam.
Pineapples are highly perishable but good enough, there are a number of ways to add value to pineapples.
Margaret Nakku, a resident of Namugongo, for example, adds value to them by making pineapple crisps.
“Now that it is a season for pineapples, I buy from farmers in bulk. I then peel them and cut the pineapple in small pieces and put them in a solar drier for a couple of days, depending on how hot it is. I remove them after they are dry and I package the crisps into different quantities and then supply to different shops and schools,” she explains. The smallest pack of the crisps is Shs500 and the biggest at Shs2,500.
Wine, powder, candy, jam, ketchup and juice are some of the products you can make from pineapple and here is how.
Requirements: Ripe pineapples, sugar, citric acid and sodium benzoate.
Procedure: Wash and peel the pineapples. Crush them thoroughly to extract juice. To increase juice yield, water can be added to the pulp. To the juice add citric acid (0.3 per cent), sodium benzoate (0.5 per cent) and sugar (a cup, quantity of sugar may change depending on need). The juice is heated to 80OC for five minutes with constant stirring. It is the filled into cans or glass jars while hot (hot filling) and sealed immediately. Thereafter, it is warmed in boiling water for a further 15 minutes. The juice is then cooled and ready for consumption.
Requirements: Pineapples, sugar, yeast (two per cent) and water.
Procedure: Set up a fermentation bin with a cover containing a tube connected to a water jar, which will be used to monitor the process.
Wash the pineapples, peel and de-core then cut into small pieces. Crush the pineapple pieces to extract the juice. Then add an equal amount of water and sterilise by boiling for 15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature then add yeast (two per cent of the extracted juice). Add sugar (30 per cent of the extracted juice) and mix well. Let it stand for seven days then siphon out the supernatant. Consumption can begin from day seven but if matured (allow it to stand in bottles) for longer the flavour improves.
Pineapple powder is highly valued as a sweetener and has a shelf-life of up to six months. Dried pineapples can also be packed separately as a product.
Wash the fruits and cut into small pieces. Blanch the pineapples in boiling water for five minutes and immerse in cold portable water and dry until they become brittle. Then crush and package in airtight container.
Improved technology, however, suggests the extraction of juice which is dried and powdered. This requires sophisticated technology which cannot be applied at home.
Requirements: Pineapples, six kilogrammes (peeled), sugar three kilogrammes and lemon juice 50ml.
Procedure: Select ripe and non-defect pineapples. Wash in clean drinking water and allow to drip. Peel the pineapples and de-core. Cut the fruit into small slices and transfer to a pot and simmer for 15 minutes under low heat while stirring. Add one kilogramme of sugar and dissolve rapidly.
Cook under high heat while stirring for 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the remaining sugar (two kilogrammes) and mix thoroughly while cooking.
When the jam has reached its setting point and begins to thicken, remove from the fire..