BUNDIBUGYO. As the leading producer of cocoa in Uganda, farmers in Bundibugyo have asked government to set up a chocolate plant in the district.
Bundibugyo produces more than 18 metric tons of cocoa produced every year with a kilogramme currently going for Shs6,000 on the local market.
The farmers made the call before the Operation Wealth Creation programme chief coordinator, Gen Salim Saleh, during his visit to the district last Friday.
Mr Ronald Mutegeki, the district chairperson, said: “Farmers need to be supported to add value to their cocoa if they are to reap much.”
Mr Mutegeki said they have procured 21 acres of land near Kanyamwirima Barracks and that they are waiting for an investor to establish a chocolate factory.
“With a cocoa factory we shall be able to produce chocolate and other products. We also need to supply vanilla under OWC because our soils are very supportive,” he said.
Gen Saleh asked the district to come up with a sustainable business plan in order to get support from his office.
“Some time back I asked districts with a viable, bankable and sustainable business plan to inform me but there was none. I put up Shs3 billion for them. If you can give me that business plan then we shall make a deal,” said Gen Saleh.
Mr Constantine Bwambale, the proprietor of Bakwanye Trading Company Ltd, one the biggest cocoa buying companies in the district, said the presence of many buying companies has resulted in the production of poor quality cocoa due to the increasing high demand for the crop.
“In the process of collecting cocoa, we find issues ranging from poor caring of the crop, poor harvesting and drying which affects our market. We have embarked on a move to educate farmers on how to care for the crop right from the garden to the final stage of purchase,” Mr Bwambale said.
He asked government to introduce cocoa farming to districts in Bunyoro and central region.
According to Bwambale, the district has registered some development because of the cocoa farming.
The Bwamba County Member of Parliament, Mr Richard Gafabusa, said cocoa farming is a big threat to the food security in the district.
“Cocoa is described as a selfish crop. It does not accept intercropping and, most of our population have abandoned growing food crops for cocoa farming,” said Mr Gafabusa said.