Pineapples are widely consumed as a dessert. Some people sun-dry the fruit and sell the dry chips.
Others extract the juice and pack it. However, Mariam Namukose has embraced another way of adding value to pineapples.
A resident of Mukono Town in Mukono District, Namukose, crashes the ripe pineapples so that she can easily squeeze juice from them and boils it after mixing it with other ingredients.
The drink is commonly known as omunanasi in Luganda. She has been doing this since 2009.
Namukose says, she first gets very ripe pineapples, which she washes before crashing using a metallic object. She does not remove the outer skin of the pineapple.
She also crashes about a half kilogramme of ginger. She then puts the crashed pineapples and ginger in water, depending on the amount of juice she wants to make.
For instance, three big pineapples can make good juice when mixed with 20 litres of water.
After this, she boils the concoction in a big saucepan. When it starts boiling, Namukose adds tea leaves. For example in 20 litres she puts 20 grams of tea leaves.
After one hour of boiling it is ready. It is then removed from the fire, left to cool a bit and sieved to remove the particles of ginger, pineapples and tea leaves. It is then put in cans or any container and placed in a fridge.
When it has completely become cold, she adds sugar (about two kilogrammes for 20 litres of the boiled juice) to make it sweeter.
After this, the product is ready for sale Namukose says she buys pineapples from traders in Kayunga District but sometimes she buys them from Mukono Town when they are many on market.
Namukose’s biggest challenge lies in the high prices of pineapples, especially during scarcity.
This, she says forces her to increase on the price of her drink if she has to get some little profit.
Also, the unreliable power supply sometimes makes her lose all her drink as it goes bad when there is no power to refrigerate.
She also faces another challenge, especially during rainy seasons as the demand of her drink goes down, hence her income.
She also incurs costs to buy drinking straws and polythene bags, where she sometimes pack the drink. A bundle of polythene bags goes for Shs3,000 and straws at Shs2,500.
A sucker of treated pineapple goes for Shs200. It is advisable to go for the treated ones because it has greater survival rate than the untreated. Now, let us calculate for small scale pineapple farmers – For a sizable land, assuming you buy 5,000 suckers which is Shs200×5000 = Shs1m add the cost of labour, herbicides, transportation, fertiliser and the rent of the land if it’s not your own and everything amounting to about Shs3m.
Presently, depending on the size one pineapple goes between Shs1,000 to Shs5,000 if you are selling in bulk but, put yours at Shs1,000 per pineapple and multiply that by 4,500 since not all may likely survive, that gives you Shs4m pure profit in a single harvest and now think of what that would make for the next 10 years or more that the pineapples will be producing.
So you can see the huge profit there for both small scale and commercial large scale farmers?
And one can even start with less amount and partner with the retailers for easy disposing and gradually grow his agribusiness to a top level and have processing companies buying from him.
Pineapple farming is not a quick way of money making but a sure way of making sustainable income over time. If taken seriously as a business, pineapple farming is sure to get a person stabilised financially in life. Pineapple has wider appeal than we could ever think of and there are even so many ways that it could be preserved now through some modern techniques which we will be uncovering in our future article on pineapple and its usages.
In a day, Namukose says she can sell 60 litres of the drink although during dry spells she can sell more than this. She sells Shs500 for a small cup and a half a litre at Shs1,000. In a day she can make about Shs60,000, Shs420,000 per week and in a month Shs1.6m.
When she deducts all the expenses such as cost of ginger, pineapple, tea leaves and labour, she remains with about Shs1m as profits a month. “My monthly income is higher than what many civil servants get,” she boasts. She says she makes more money when there is a lot of heat. Her customers consist mainly of town dwellers like bodaboda cyclist, hotels and schools.
•Wash the pineapple and then cut into chunks.
•Mix the brown sugar and water until sugar dissolves.
•Add the pineapple chunks, sugar water and cloves to a large glass jar or pitcher.
•Cover with a cotton cloth or towel and let sit on the counter in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for some hours.
•Pineapple drink will turn golden yellow and white foam will form on the surface.
•Scoop out the white foam that forms.