The National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) has confirmed that the Kayunga pineapple factory is now ready for operation. Constructed with an investment of Shs 2.5 billion from the government, the factory is a fulfillment of a presidential pledge to Entebbe Miracle Centre who conceived the idea.
A team of engineers from NAADS, Makerere University and contractors from Musa Body Machinery Uganda Ltd, Balix Imports and Exports Ltd, and Plumb Base Uganda Ltd on January carried out a pre-testing exercise on the factory to ascertain its readiness for operation.
According to the Eng. Michael Shuwu, the Value Chain Development Officer at NAADS, the pre-testing exercise was aimed at testing the functionality of the processing plant to ensure that everything is in order before the factory is commissioned and handed over to the owners for operation.
“All the processing equipment has been fully installed and functional, power and water are already connected, the receiving area for raw materials and the storage area for finished products have all been completed”, explained Eng. Shuwu.
The factory has the capacity to process 5 tons of fresh pineapples per day on an 8-hour working time.
Prof. William Kyamuhangire who represented Makerere University said the factory is ready to start operations as per what they discovered during the pre-testing exercise.
Prof. Kyamuhangire said a few glitches were discovered during the exercise and that they are going to be rectified by the contractors as soon as possible.
After the successful pre-testing of the plant, the next phase will be carrying out the test runs which will take a period of eight days. During this period, the contractors will train the private sector beneficiaries including Entebbe Miracle Center and Semu Agrotech Uganda Ltd on how to run the factory before its handed over to them in a few months.
Kayunga District Local Government and Kayunga District Farmer’s Association have mobilized more than 2,000 farmers to provide the facility with enough raw materials.
Moses Kakande, a pineapple farmer in Kiti village in Busaale sub-county in Kayunga, says they earn between Shs1,000 and Shs1,500 from a mature pineapple sold on the farm which is very little considering the investments on the farms.
“The middlemen who buy the pineapples from the farmers earn better than us because they sell the fruits at more than sh2,000 each in major towns. The peak season is even worse for the farmer because pineapple prices fall to below sh500 per mature fruit, which takes five months to grow.”
The Kayunga district agricultural officer Moses Kibumba is optimistic that the processing facility will create job opportunities for residents and spur growth among other business ventures in the area.