Kalangala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Commercial fruit farmers in Kalangala islands have appealed to the government to expedite the process of setting up a value addition facility in the area to deal with the lack of markers for their produce.
The farmers embraced the growing of fruits mainly pineapples, mangoes and citrus in 2014 to supplement fishing and oil palm tree growing which had been their main source of livelihood, motivated by the supply of inputs under the National Agricultural Advisory Services-NAADS program.
According to records by the District Production Office, Kalangala has at least 100 commercial pineapple farmers some of whom are also intercropping their plantations with mangoes and citrus fruits. But they are struggling to earn from the production due to lack of markets.
Livingstone Mwasanje, one of the commercial pineapple farmers in Mugoye sub county says that the situation worsened during the COVID-19 lockdown after the obstruction of the Kenyan market. Mwasanje who owns a plantation measuring up to 23 acres says that many of the farmers are frustrated because of the failure to find markets for their farm produce.
According to him, they are jostling for the inadequate local market whose prices have fallen to as low as 300 Shillings per pineapple. As a result, he says, farmers have suffered huge losses after investing huge sums of money in fruit farming.
Mwasanje says that it is high time the government set up a fruit processing facility that can help farmers to minimize the apparent losses once they add value to their produce. He is optimistic that the value addition facility will spur more local production of the fruits and increase people’s incomes.
Gerald Sseguya, the Bujumba sub county Agriculture Officer supported the farmers’ demands for a value addition facility, saying it will go a long way in expanding the district’s local economy by encouraging a variety of viable income-generating activities on the islands.
According to him, they have already built the public goodwill to venture into commercial farming, calling upon the government to support their efforts by spreading out value addition facilities and support the sustainability of the program in the community.
Khadija Nakakande, the communications officer of the National Agriculture Advisory Services-NAADS has said that the government has already undertaken efforts to address the concerns. Nakakande says that after supporting farmers with the planting materials, the government, through NAADS, is now working out interventions for promoting the fruits value addition chain.
Nakakande adds that an ongoing feasibility study in the greater Masaka sub-region has proved the viability of fruit value addition, an idea she says will be realized in the next financial year based on the NAADs approved work plan.