The minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon Frank Tumwebaze has promised to activate policies that will help the Soroti Fruit factory reach its full potential. The minister made the pledge on Wednesday while touring the factory located in Soroti city. “As a Ministry, we can help you from a policy perspective. This will however require the involvement of other Ministries to handle issues to do with taxes,” Hon Tumwebaze said.
The Minister was reacting to complaints by the Chief Executive Officer of Soroti Fruits factory, Mr Douglas Kakyukyu Ndawula who said that while they could have earned more revenue from selling fruit concentrates, soft drink companies are opting to import.
“We have reached out to Coca-Cola, Riham Cola and other players in the industry but still they continue to import., “Mr Ndawula said.
Hon Tumwebaze, in response, asked for assurance from Mr Ndawula that they had built enough capacity to feed the local demand. “I want to know can you be competitive?” Hon Tumwebaze asked. “Because we have to work with our colleagues in the trade ministry and explore what measures can be put in place to promote local content. However, we need to be certain that you can compete favorably”
The factory, which was the brainchild of Teso Tropical Fruit Cooperative Union (TEFCU), was launched in April 2019, with main objective of tapping into the plentiful citrus fruits grown in Teso sub-region for profitable production of oranges and mangoes. Of the recent, the factory’s mango line, hasn’t been working but during Hon Tumwebaze’s visit he was assured by Mr Ndawula it’s being fixed and it will be operational soon.
“It’s only the orange line that has been functional but as you can see the mango line is being fixed,” Mr Ndawula said pointing at technicians fixing the line. Another challenge that would be addressed through additional funding, Mr Ndawula said, was the production line which he said is small thereby leaving them uncompetitive. “What we produce in 48 hours,” he said. “Our competitors do it in just a few minutes. We need to improve our production capabilities if we turn this it a big commercial entity.”
Hon Tumwebaze who was accompanied by Hon Hellen Adoa, the state minister for fisheries advised Soroti Fruit Factory to leverage state-owned media houses to advertise their products. In October 2019, Soroti Fruit Factory produced its first processed product, the Teso Juice christened ‘Teju’ and Mr Ndawula told the minister that while they get mangoes from Kasese, the oranges are got from the districts that makeup Teso sub-region.