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Luweero leaders ask church to take over stalled pineapple processing plant

 

Luweero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Leaders in Luweero district have asked the Catholic Diocese of Kasana-Luweero to take over the failed pineapple processing plant.

In February 2008, pineapple farmers in Luweero under the Natural Uganda Cooperative Society Limited petitioned President Museveni demanding a processing plant to add value to their organic pineapple.

President Museveni ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to inject one billion shillings into the project.

The farmers hoped that if successful, they would be able to process the pineapples and sell them to supermarkets in Uganda and Austria.

In February 2009, the ministry of agriculture and animal husbandry in conjunction with the ministry of finance and economic planning issued out 115 million for phase one. The money was used to purchase a five-acre piece of land for the plant in Luweero town council, but the ministry has since failed to inject more money to push the project ahead.

The land on which the processing plant was to be established has been turned into a grazing zone.

Abbey Ssozi Bakisuula, the Luweero district secretary for production says that they approached the Naads secretariat and Ministry of trade reminding them about the pledge in vain.

Hundreds of farmers in Luweero especially in the sub-counties of Kikyuusa, Kamila among others have over a decade invested heavily in pineapple growing. According to Luweero agricultural department, there are over 2,000 acres of pineapple plantations in the district.

The farmers have on several occasions registered bumper harvests that has always seen a drop in the prices of pineapples to as low as 700 Shillings per pineapple from 2,000 Shillings.

Jimmy Wamala, the chairperson of Luweero Pineapple Farmers and Traders’ Association says that due to the perishability of the pineapples and the lack of a factory to help add value, farmers were left with no option but sell them in Luweero and Kampala.

The Bamunanika County Member of Parliament elect Robert Ssekitoleko wants the Catholic Church to take over the project which will boost the farmers produce.

Bishop Ssemogerere of the Catholic Diocese of Kasana-Luweero says that the idea fronted by the leaders is good. He however says that they will have to first carry out a feasibility study.

According to Luweero agriculture department, there are over 1,800 acres of pineapples in the district and 98% of the pineapples are sold without value addition.

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