Located about 500 metres from the giant Emmanuel cathedral in Mvara Sudan zone, the Savoury Classic Quality Meat processing plant offers a one stop destination ideal for pork lovers in Arua town.
The premises is filled with a spicy aroma as it is a combination of an eatery, a bar, a kitchen and a processing and blending plant.
Mr Peter Jurua, 58, the man behind the enterprise says the idea was to create a centre that handles meat professionally and make a difference from other dealers in town.
“I wanted to make high quality dishes so that visiting tourists and local customers eat meat that is of internationally acceptable standards and in a hygienic environment” he said.
Mr Jurua ventured into the enterprise as a way of self-sustenance because he didn’t want to continue depending on peanut salary and wages.
Mr Jurua is a professional leather technician turned meat handler. He first worked in the Uganda leather and turning industry that was in Jinja.
There, he served for 16 years in different capacities as machine operator, supervisor and grader for the export unit.
During the construction of Kampala-Mityana road between 1986 and 1993, Mr Jurua was promoted to oversee the packaging, labeling and documentation of hides and skins the government was paying for the road works under a barter trade arrangement.
In 1994, the Uganda leather and turning industry was privatized to the Aga Khan which set terms that many employees considered unfavourable.
Mr Jurua began a cottage leather craft industry to prop up his salaries by making hand bags, belts, shoes and leather carpets.
One of his high profile clients was the first lady Janet Museveni for whom he made a leather carpet designed to illustrate the newly forged good relations between Uganda and Tanzania.
Mrs Museveni was so impressed that apart from giving the carpet as a gift to the visiting Tanzanian first lady, she advised Mr Jurua to leave Aga Khan and concentrate on crafts.
He took up the advice but before setting off for Arua, he decided to lend his professional skills to the assistance of Gen. Elli Tumwine who was struggling to set a leather turning workshop along 2nd street in industrial area, Kampala.
For two years Mr Jurua made leather sofa chairs which the general sold at sh1.5m per set.
Eventually Mr Jurua was hired by a German development agency, DED, to head the income generating activities and skills training programme for South Sudan refugees at Imvepi, Rhino Camp and Okollo settlements in Arua.
The emphasis of this programme was to reorient the minds of refugees to be self-reliant instead of solely depending on handouts.
“Then I asked myself why am I teaching self-reliance when I am still dependent on the DED salary. The earlier encouragement by the first lady came to my mind and I decided to get into private business,” Mr Jurua recounts.
His first step was to redesign his incomplete building that was initially supposed to be a residence into a commercial house to accommodate a leather crafts workshop.
But because meat selling has comparative advantage over leather in terms of quick returns on investments, Mr Jurua ventured into meat processing.
The meat business
He erected a simple oven in 1996 which he used to roast fresh fish before the idea of selling pork crossed his mind.
Then one day Mr Jurua slaughtered a pig that weighed10kg. He fried the pork with spices and served it free to people who were drinking malwa, a local brew at a nearby joint.
As they savoured the tender pork recipe the men encouraged Mr Jurua to go commercial, vowing that they would be the first customers to buy his product.
This marked his entry into pork processing and selling which has remained the mainstay of the processing plant.
As his base of clientele expanded, Mr Jurua wrote a business proposal and applied for assistance for machinery from Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI).
UIRI responded by giving him a manual sausage mincing machine, filler, bagger mould, washing casing, weighing scales and a hand saw in addition to training his six staff members.
His factory has evolved from a single oven to a plant that now produces sausages, minced meat, frozen fish fillets, smoked meat products, meat loaf, roasted chicken, and beacon and meat burgers.
Automating the factory
With his eyes set on supplying the abundant market in parts of Eastern DR Congo, South Sudan and the expatriate community in the West Nile region attracted by the bulging refugee assistance programme, Mr Jurua churned out a plan for modernisation.
In 2013, he received a batch of automated machines and other equipment to achieve this goal. The machinery worth sh81.8m was acquired through the Business Uganda development scheme under the peace, recovery and development programme.
They included electric sausage filler, meat slicer, vacuum packing machine, electric bone saw, industrial gas cookers, stainless steel freezers, double door sliding cooler, refrigerated meat show case, a three phase meat mincer with a capacity of mincing 650kg of deboned meat per hour or 5,200kg or five tonnes of meat per day.
There is also a bowl cutter that handles 15kg of meat per lot, and stainless steel work tables.
Meanwhile UIRI undertook a six-month project to construct a sh90m housing unit to accommodate the machinery as well as a smoking unit.
Some of those sophisticated machinery are being tested while others are idle as work on the housing unit is still on-going five years on.
Mr Jurua says he is hopeful that all the machinery would be operational within the next three months when he expects to increase the production capacity.
He is also planning to double the number of employed staff from 11 to 22 so that they can work in shifts.
Currently he sells 500g of pork sausages (10 finger lets) at sh11,000, and 1kg of roasted pork at sh12,000.
His average monthly business expenditure is sh5m generating sh12m in total sales and sh7m monthly net profit. These figures would radically change once the production and processing capacity rises.
In order to ensure steady supply, Mr Jurua has set plans afoot to establish his own buffer stock of animals and poultry.
He is expanding the capacity of the plants abattoir for slaughter of all the animals so that he can monitor the quality and handling of the meat right from when the animals are butchered.
He has applied to the Uganda bureau of standards for bar cording so that his products can be labeled and sold on supermarket shelves.
He also has plans to establish a bigger recreational centre to create more comfort for customers to make their evenings worthwhile.