The only juice processing plant in Luweero has been hit hard in production because of lack of funds to buy modernized equipments.
African Tropical Organic Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Exporters Limited (ATOPE Ltd), the only juice processing plant in Luweero has failed to expand its operations because of lack of funds to buy modern equipment. The plant was that is found in Kasasiiso village in Luweero Town council, was started by Edith Wamara in 2007 to create jobs for women and provide market for the abundant fruits in the area.
The company worth shillings 400 million produces pasteurized mango, orange, and pineapple juice under Bling Vegetable and Fruit label. Edith Wamara, Director ATOPE says that her company produces 1000 liters of Juice each week instead of 1600 liters each day. She says that as a result of the limited production capacity they have failed to satisfy the high number demand for their products such as schools, hospitals, supermarkets and shops amongst others.
She attributes the stagnation of her plant to lack of funds for expansion. Wamara says that both the company and out growers have vast land to produce enough fruits but the company cannot handle the extra produce because of lack of modern machines. She explains that they need machines such as extractors, mixers, pasteurizer batch, and multipurpose scrapping fruit pulper. She says that currently most of the work is carried out manually, which is tedious to the workers. Wamara says that they have cut down their production to three days a week, as they grapple with the high operational costs.
She explains that she has wrote proposals to numerous nongovernmental organizations and central government requesting for shillings 1.6 needed for the machines but her request has not yielded positive results. Wamara says that they are hesitant to get a bank loan because of the high interest rates. She has petitioned the office of the president to intervene and save her company from closing shop. In 2009, another pineapple plant in Luweero wound its operation after it failed to get shillings 1 billion from to improve its operational capacity.
The project left over 200 farmers with stranded with their pineapples as they had nowhere to sell it. Juma Mutabaazi, a pineapple farmer in Kikyusa Sub County says that the absence of a fruit processing plant has exposed farmers to exploitation from middle men. He explains that a pineapple that is sold at 2500 shillings in Kampala markets is bought costs shillings 500shillings in Luweero. He asks President Yoweri Museveni to fulfill his continuous promises to farmers in Luweero to fund fruit processing plant for value addition.
The District agriculture Officer Sarah Namubiru says that the district lacks money to bail out the project. She says that they are now working hand in hand with farmers to ensure that they secure funding from nongovernmental organizations. According to statistics from Luweero agriculture department pineapples are the top fruits grown in the district but 98 % are sold with no value addition
petition to president yoweri museveni
central government and non governmental organisations
lack of funds to buy modernised equipments