Makerere’s Mobile Fruit Factory Launched in Yumbe
- Processes 20 tonnes of mangoes in five days, the juice to be sold to Kampala companies that can make retail packs but some to be utilised by the Business Incubation Centre
- Farmers paid 200/= per kilogram
- Mango supply exceeds the capacity of the machine
- Residents demand for more mobile machines or a permanent factory
RDC rep. Baluku Alozio (infront) followed by IGP representative Capt. Musherure move to launch the machine
Makerere University has finally launched the Mobile fruit processor in Lobenga village, Apo Sub County in Yumbe district. The machine was flagged of from Makerere on Thursday 16 May, 2013. Over 20 tonnes of mangoes were processed in five days in Lobenga village.
The facility was launched on Saturday 25th May 2013 by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) represented by the District Internal Security Officer Baluku Alozio who thanked Makerere University for getting out of the Ivory tower to the village.
The function was witnessed by local residents, district officials, and Makerere staff, representatives of the Uganda Police force and Prisons and leaders of youth groups from Kampala.
RDC representative Baluku Alozio throws mangoes in the machine during the launch
Children, women, young and old provided they had the energy to pick and carry mangoes to the site, weighed their mangoes and smiled away with cash at 200/= per kilogram. Previously a basinful of mangoes cost about 1000/= but is now fetching 20,000/=
The technical team is expected to continue with processing until the mango season is over. Yumbe has 13 sub counties but so far one week has been spent in one sub county- Apo.
After Apo Sub County the machine was heading for Kuru Sub County towards Koboko where the production of mangoes is said to be higher. Three sub counties and the town council will be merged for farmers to supply their mangoes. Yumbe has 12 sub counties and a township.
The Technical Manager on the ground Dr. Balimunsi Hussein described the processing as successful. He however said the supply of mangoes was more than expected and beyond the capacity of the machine.
“On the first day we bought about 14 tonnes and we processed them for two days. On the second and third day, 360 and 200 farmers brought mangoes each with an average of 35 kilograms. The materials are too much and I don’t think we can finish them.” Said Dr. Balimunsi.
Some of the mangoes supplied at the machine site
Launching the machine, the RDC Yumbe represented by Baluku Alozio said the successful launch of the mobile processor signified that whenever there is peace and security nothing was impossible adding that the people of Yumbe took the right decision to sign the peace accord with government and were now getting the fruits.
“I urge the youth, elders and politicians that we say never, never go back to war”. Baluku told participants that the presence of the machine also signified that the leadership of NRM knows that people in rural areas matter and the reason why the fruit processor was deployed in Yumbe.
“Makerere and Uganda Police would have said no and our mangoes would still be rotting”
He said the intervention was timely describing it as a challenge to the district production coordinator who must now guide people on how to produce good mangoes, and ensure that extension officers do their job.
Processed fruit pulp packed in 100 litre containers for transportation to Kampala
He advised residents to strive for education especially by educating the girl child if the district is to compete favourably for jobs and improve on livelihoods. He asked residents to embrace Government policies such as UPE and USE, look at the future of their daughters instead of marrying them off early.
“We are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project. If the mango factory is built, we may fail to get people to work there due to lack of education and at the end we will complain that our jobs have been taken” the RDC advised.
He described the people of Yumbe as hardworking and assured Makerere and the Police that within two years the production of mangoes will have doubled beyond their capacity. He said the challenge for the district was twofold; getting investors and the need for the production department to work harder.
Participants share and test the Yumbe mango juice
The Chief Administrative Officer Yumbe Piwang Elly described the mobile fruit factory as magical and one of the most recent and surprising innovations that has come to the people of Yumbe.
Piwang said that initially they thought that their mangoes would not be processed but have learnt that they can produce a lot of juice contrary to earlier assertions that their mangoes had a lot of fibre. He said this recent technology has given residents a lot of hope that communities can now reap quite big from the sale of mangoes.
“We have been initially selling a basin full of mangoes at about 1000/= but with this initiative, has improved on the income of the people. A basin full of mangoes can now go for 20,000/= and we think this is one of the starting points for fighting poverty amongst our people.” Piwang said.
He said the district is to embark on organising farmers better and also conduct a feasibility study on how to sustain this kind of initiative. “We shall lobby and net work with other organs of government and partner with organisations in the district like Agakhan to promote this kind of initiatives in our district.” The CAO pledged.
Employed locals washing mangoes before they are fed into the machine
The District Production Officer Bakole Stephen recalled that despite the fact that the President came to Yumbe in 2006 and talked about mangoes, people blasted him due to lack of understanding.
“When the machine arrived, people started seeing sense and went back to accept what the district leadership and the President has been saying. Truly, they have realised that out of the local mangoes we can get money. They have now touched the money and they have accepted that they can address more of the challenges currently facing them” Bakole acknowledged.
He said Yumbe now needs a fully fledged research to fully understand the needs and potential of these mangoes on grounds that what had been bought was just 0.4% of the total production but a lot had been earned.
Bakole expressed happiness for the mobile processor and thanked Makerere university team for the price set.
“People used to sell a kilo at 100/= and at times just throw away after failing to sell but Makerere is giving 200/= which is very positive and liked by the residents”.
Bakole observed that many mangoes were rotting in other parts like Keyi, Ogago and Lodola while mango trees were being cut down in favour of tobacco due to lack of market.
“Because of the presence of the market for tobacco, residents were cutting mango trees for curing tobacco destroying a number of these trees. But I think from today they have now seen that the mangoes have money and are a better product than tobacco” he said.
Mangoes weighed in kilograms before cashing the farmers
District Chairman Yumbe District Aniku Saidi, on behalf of people of Yumbe welcomed participants saying he did not have the right word to express gratitude to the leadership of President M7, the IGP and Makerere University.
Aniku reported that H. E the President Yoweri Museveni was in Yumbe on April 5th 2013 to launch the Army boarding school in Apo sub county during the Tare Sita celebrations in West Nile and requested residents to produce mangoes in plenty.
“The President was sure that mangoes have market and referred to them as being golden and that the people of Yumbe were walking on wealth” The District Chair reported.
He said not very far, the IGP visited Yumbe to see land that had been offered for a Police Academy accompanied by colleagues from Makerere University and highlighted the issue of mangoes and gave an assurance that Police had a partnership with Makerere whose machine would be tested in Yumbe.
What a joy do we have seeing a machine on ground! He shouted.
Aniku requested government for more support through interventions like NAADS and encouraged communities to grow mangoes on a commercial scale on reason that they have been confirmed good.
He stated that previously residents have been encouraged to grow tobacco but the output has not been tangible but have now been challenged that there is an alternative of mangoes.
“We have confirmed through this partnership that Yumbe needs a factory and I want to join speakers from Makerere that it was true and fact”, he said.
Some of the Youth from Kampala loading Juice onto the police truck
The LC 1 Chairman Chandiga Ratibu Sadulah expressed happiness for the opportunity given to his village Lobenga, saying the machine has created market for mangoes that have been rotting and provided cash for his people to meet some of the basic needs.
“Mangoes have been rotting and since the machine has arrived here, our people are benefiting from mango production. So I am suggesting that this machine should be here year after year in this village because if this process continues our mangoes will not rot”, Chandiga appealed.
He said besides Yumbe, people had been travelling long distances to Koboko and Moyo to sell mangoes.
“So right now if you go to Yumbe Centre you will find that a small basin is sold 100/= which means there is no market”, The Area LC narrated.
Makerere University Professor. Frank Kansiime said when the IGP and Makerere team visited the district, residents complained about the rotting mangoes then the IGP asked what Makerere could do.
“We told him that actually we have the mobile fruit processor which was donated to Makerere Incubation centre by the President and we were about testing it and he requested that we test it in Yumbe. So, we sat with the IGP and worked out a plan and that is why we are here.” Prof. Kansiime narrated.
He thanked the President for his innovative ideas and financial support given to Makerere to buy the machine.
“The machine is doing wonders and people are saying they will need more of this type if not a factory. You can have a factory that can process mangoes from Yumbe and other neighbouring districts like Adjumani, Moyo, Nebbi Arua, because if Yumbe alone can produce these tonnes then what about if combined from other districts? ” Kansiime said.
Some of the locals carried and tasted the juice
Makerere University Associate Professor, William Kyamuhangire said the University came up with the mobile processor to address issues of scattered production of different fruits and vegetables. He said the idea behind the machine was for it to move to rural areas where fruits and vegetables are produced, process them from there and move to another locality.
“You need to realise that in Uganda we don’t have plantation fruits. These fruits grow in the backyard and therefore when you combine them, they are enough to support a mobile processing factory. Our intention was to move to particular localities.” He said.
Dr. Kyamuhangire explained that the second aim was to provide income to farmers who provide fruits and vegetables through value addition to contribute to the whole development of Agriculture and the economy.
He said Yumbe was the first time and location to deploy the mobile processor and what led to the choice of Yumbe was the partnership with the Uganda Police, Prisons and the Local government in Yumbe that was welcoming to the idea of the fruit processor.
“ We were fearing that when deployed , it will not perform to our expectations but so far it has perform 100% to our expectations. It is able to take in the raw mangoes, process them to juice and so far we have handled more than 20tonnes in one week. So we expect it to process more than 60 tonnes of fruit by the end of the mango season.” Dr. Kyamuhangire said.
Dr. Kyamuhangire, the RDC representative and Dr. Hussein Balimunsi on the machine
Dr. Kyamuhangire said it provides hope that a machine like this is needed in every district and not only one but depending on the level of production projecting that the demand for the mobile processor in Yumbe was going to be higher in the next mango season.
He stated that although the machine was not deployed in Yumbe on time, it has been realised that every sub county in Yumbe will require a machine like this one. Yumbe has two mango seasons and the peak is in March -April but the university came in when the season was ending at the end of May.
“We have tested that machine and we intend to test each component of the machine so that it improves on the efficiency and the processed products. As for the people of Yumbe the reception was fantastic and the local government has given us the necessary support and we are very happy about that”, Dr. Kyamuhangire said.
He said part of this processed fruit will be taken up by young business people at the Food Technology and Business incubation centre which nurtures and supports Business start ups and graduates to turn it to finished packed products for the super markets.
Secondly the university would like to create a partnership with the private sector so that the intermediate product processed in the field is taken up and prepared in retail packets but thirdly, the university on its own intends to be preparing retail packs which can be sold in the super markets and may be branded Yumbe Mango.
Part of the technical team on the job
The Mobile Fruit Processing Machine
The mobile fruit processor is the first of its kind in Uganda and was manufactured in the UK by a company called Alvan Blanch according to specifications sent by experts in the School of Food Science at a cost of 400,000 US Dollars.
The source of funds is the Government of Uganda through the Presidential Initiative for value addition that is given to scientists at Makerere University. Every year the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering receives 4.5 billion shillings for the Business Incubation centre.
This machine was specified by experts in the School of Food Science to be a mobile multipurpose machine to benefit communities. It can process mangoes, oranges, pineapples and other fruits and vegetables.
The machine is a complete factory of its own. It takes in raw fruit and delivers an intermediate preserved mango or pineapple pulp and because it takes care of itself, it has a generator on board, water treatment and processing unit to preserve the pulp and tanks for intermediate storage.
The final products are packed in bulk bags (each unit is 20 kgs) and put in a container on another truck. It has the capacity of processing 3 tonnes of fruits per day (3000 kilograms of mangos processed per day). You can pack processed water for drinking on that machine. The processed fruit pulp is preserved and can stay up to a minimum of six months and up to a year.
Participants pose for a photo after the launch