What you need to know:
- Agricycle has facilitated farmers with the solar dehydrators to get the fruits dry before they get to the market.
While the complete value chain for fruit products including the jackfruit and pineapple still elude a bigger section of farmers in Luweero District for lack of a fruit processing factory within their reach, women under the Sanyuka Women Group are now able to process dried fruit for export using the solar dehydrators.
Ms Rehema Namubiru (18), who has been out of school for more than 18 months since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic but now a member of the Sanyuka women group, is a beneficiary from the fruit processing project that uses the solar dehydrators to dry the fruits before final packaging for the market.
As part of her struggle to make ends meet, Namubiru together with 24 other members of Sanyuka Women Group at Bwaziba village in Luweero District is among the pioneer beneficiary of the fruit processing project where Agricycle has facilitated them with the solar dehydrators to get the fruits dry before they get to the market.
“We prepare the fresh jackfruit and pineapple and place the fruits under the solar dehydrators to get them dry before they get packaged by Agricyle. It takes two and a half days for the jack fruit to dry while the pineapple fruit will dry after three and half days using the solar dehydrators,” she explains.
“Agricycle that buys the dry fruits, supplies the solar dehydrators and ensures that our products meet the market standards. This explains why the fruits that we process go through maximum supervision by officials from Agricycle. We are able to earn some good money from the dry fruits that we get from the home gardens and fruits from the other farmers,” she explains.
“Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) has patterned with Agricycle and MasterCard Foundation, among other agencies to ensure that the youth are trained and get certification from UNBS for the micro- processing centre where the fruits get dried using the solar dehydrators for the market. The groups do not have to search for the market because Agricycle provides the market,” says Apollo Muyanja Mbazizira the project director at PSFU.
Agricycle pays Shs14,000 for each kilogramme of the dry jack fruit. The group members under the Sanyuka women group at Bwaziba have already sold some dry fruit to Agricycle.
“We do not accept dried fruits that have not gone through the solar dehydrators because the market for the dry fruit targets quality that cannot be compromised. We supply the dehydrators to the groups and ensure that the processing is not compromised. The consumers of the dry fruit demand maximum standards and we are obliged to supervise the process,” says Joshua Shefner the director of Agricycle.
Value for products
Victoria Ssekitoleko, former Agriculture Minister and now chairperson at Uganda Agribusiness Alliance (UAA) believes farmers in Luweero District will now get value for their products. The farmers who produce pineapples and jackfruits have previously complained of low prices.
“This project provides a new lease of life for the Luweero farmers that have for a long time been complaining about the low prices for the pineapple and jack fruits,” she says.