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Uganda: Teso fruit factory 'ready by end of year'

A key meeting to discuss the proposed fruit processing factory in the Teso region of Uganda has resolved that the plant should be ready before the end of the year.

Stakeholders in the factory met in Soroti town last week and made a number of decisions regarding the proposals, including timeframes and distribution of roles.

The meeting was convened by a taskforce of representatives from government agencies, chaired by the Uganda Development Corporation. It is this taskforce that is responsible for ensuring the factory will be established. Represented on the taskforce at last week's meeting were members of the Ugandan Ministry of Finance, the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), officials from local governments in the Teso region, as well as the Teso Tropical Fruit Growers Association (TTFGA).

A factory in the region would be good news for the people of Katine, and the rest of Teso, who grow plenty of mangoes, oranges and other tropical fruits, but have no viable market for them.

During the mango season, much of the fruit simply rots in many villages in Katine as the residents cannot eat them all and there is nowhere to store them. Those who do sell mangoes and oranges at the trading centres or at the market often get very low prices for them, which discourages the trade.

According to Charles Aben, the NAADS coordinator for Soroti district, last week's meeting answered the basic questions being asked by the region's fruit growers.

The proposed location for the factory will be within the UIA's industrial park in Arapai sub-county in Soroti district, the neighbouring sub-county to Katine. The UIA will now have the plot surveyed and serviced with water, electricity and other requirements.

"The Uganda Development Corporation will set up a subsidiary company to run the factory," said Aben. Although establishing the factory was a pledge by the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, when he toured the region in 2008, and the government has committed UShs 5bn towards its cost, it was still not clear who would own and be in charge of the factory.
"At the beginning UDC will, on behalf of the government, own 40% shares in this company to be set up," Aben said. "The farmers will own 40% and a private sector partner, to be procured through an international bidding process, will own 20%."


Publication date: 1/29/2010


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