Minister asks agro investors to sign MoUs with farmers

Soroti fruit factory has been criticised for failing to fulfill farmers’ expectations. PHOTO / FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Ongalo,  who was commissioning primary cooperative society in Kapelebyong District constructed with support from European Union last week, said he raised the concern because he has failed to realise the benefits that the Soroti fruit factory has brought to the lives of people in Teso.

The State Minister for Teso Affairs, Mr Kenneth Clement Ongalo Obote, has asked those wishing to establish agro-processing factories in Teso Sub-region to enact terms and conditions with farmer groups on the pricing of raw materials.

Mr Ongalo,  who was commissioning a primary cooperative society in Kapelebyong District constructed with support from European Union last week, said he raised the concern because he has failed to realise the benefits that the Soroti fruit factory has brought to the lives of people in Teso.

Lessons

“I will not visit that fruit factory, I don’t know what they are doing there, it has failed. The region has learnt a lot from the failings,” he said.

Mr Ongalo also wondered why the factory always complains of shortage of fruits yet oranges are rotting away.

On the promised cassava factory by  President Museveni, Mr Ongalo told farmers that he will compel those coming to establish the plant to set clear terms on matters of pricing for the tubers. Mr Ongalo said his Teso ministry will help track modalities that will benefit farmers, adding that he will also oversee establishment for model demonstration cassava farms under the supervision of the ministry so that farmers have quality seed.

The minister said if  the cassava factory is handled well, it will improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Mr Douglas Ndawula, the chief executive officer of Soroti fruits factory, said there are many underlying factors that the legislators should put right for the factory to prosper.

These include having a ban on additives used during the making of the juice that flood the market cheaply from abroad, which will give Soroti fruits factory an edge in increasing productivity for the citrus available.

However, Mr Ndawula said the factory has increased the capacity of both the orange and mango lines, which will increase production and processing capacities of the plant.

The factory was commissioned for construction in 2014 to help citrus farmers in the sub-region find market for their produce.

President Museveni launched the plant in 2019, which was meant to start mass production of juice from oranges and mangoes.

However, last year, Parliament questioned the performance of the factory, citing failure to buy the farmers’ produce to their expectation, inability to make substantial sales, and lack of value for money.

The factory has Uganda Development Corporation as the highest shareholder with 80 percent shares, while Teso tropical fruit grower’s cooperative union has 20 percent shares.

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