Kayunga farmers stuck  as pineapple factory stalls

The pineapple processing factory that was constructed in Busaale Village, Kayunga District. PHOTO/FILE  

What you need to know:

  • The factory, located in Busaale Village, Kayunga Sub-county, was scheduled for opening late last year.

The persisting wrangles over the ownership of the Shs2.5b Kayunga Pineapple Juice Factory has delayed its opening for more than a year as farmers count losses.

The factory, located in Busaale Village, Kayunga Sub-county in Kayunga District, was scheduled for opening late last year, but this did not happen after wrangles escalated.

Mr Michael Shuwu, the value chain development officer at National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads), in an interview at  the weekend said they are  finalising “pending issues” before the factory is opened.

Without disclosing the pending issues, Mr Shuwu said  after the issues are resolved, the factory will be opened in December.

“We are engaging all stakeholders and working around the clock to ensure that all the issues are resolved and it (factory) is opened in December,” he said.

Pastor Yosiya Mubiru from Entebbe Miracle Centre said  they are working with Naads  to resolve management issues of the factory.

“We want to resolve the question of management, we don’t want to start it when its foundation is not good,” Pr Mubiru noted.

Dr David Mugabi, the Kayunga District production officer, however, said they are not aware of who owns the factory and how much was injected in the project.

“We don’t know whether it [factory] is for the community or government. All these are grey areas that need clarification,” Dr Mugabi said.

He questioned whether the factory would be run as a cooperative or a privately owned entity. “We want to know whether farmers have a say when they start processing pineapples,” Dr Mugabi said.

Dr Mugabi said unless all the grey areas are clarified and farmers can negotiate for better prices which are higher than the current market prices, no farmers will take their pineapple to the factory.

About factory
Constructed by government through Naads , the factory is in  fulfillment of a presidential pledge to pastors Yosiya Mubiru and Pr Aaron Mutebi of Entebbe Miracle Centre – the vision bearers of the initiative that is aimed at assisting fruit farmers from Kayunga and the neighbouring districts engaged in pineapple cultivation to add value to their produce.

However, highly placed sources that talked to this reporter on condition of anonymity at the weekend revealed that the fight for ownership of the factory is now between Pr Mutebi, Sem Agrotech, Naads and members of Kayunga District Pineapple Farmers’ Cooperative Society.

The four are said to be partners in the joint venture for the plant whereby Pr Mubiru provided the land while Sem Agrotech procured and installed the machinery.

Members of Parliament on the Agriculture committee on an inspection visit to the factory early this year also queried its ownership when they discovered that the land on which it was built does not belong to government.

Mr Sam Kitaka, a  pineapple farmer from Kiwarasi Village, Kangulumira Sub-county, said they have waited for long for the factory to be opened in vain.

“We have incurred losses because we have no storage faculties for our fruit given that all the pineapples ripen in the same period,” he said. Another farmer, Mr Moses Kakande, is optimistic that once the pineapple processing factory becomes operational, it will save them from exploitation by the middlemen and also  enable them to get better prices.

Currently, Mr Kakande said they sell their fruit to traders from  Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan  and in Uganda.

Besides having ownership wrangles, the factory’s location is also being queried by a section of leaders in Kayunga District who claim that its site in Busaale is not suitable since there are few pineapple farmers in the area.

They claim that it would have been constructed in Kangulunira Sub-county, where 90 per cent of the farmers are engaged in pineapple growing.

The plant, which was installed by Musa Body machinery Uganda Ltd, has capacity to process five tonnes of fresh pineapple a day.