YUMBE. Mango farmers in West Nile region have been urged to consider safeguarding their mango trees ahead of the full operationalization of Yumbe mango factory.

The appeal was made by Dr. Samuel Mugasi, the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Executive Director during the technical launch of Yumbe mango factory on Monday.

According to Mugasi, the work at the factory has reached over 90 per cent of completion and as a result, farmers should get prepared to reap big from the facility.

“As you have seen, the equipment have been installed fully so, in terms of the processing line, we are almost completely done. What is remaining is to do the final touches inside (tiling) and outside doing the fence and also paving the ground,” Mugasi said.

“We have committed enough funds to do all this work remaining. We think we shall commission this project in December 2020 and we shall invite His Excellency the President of Uganda to come and commission this project,” Mugasi added.

The government of Uganda through NAADS has so far injected Shs8.7bn in the factory. The money has been spent on procurement and installation of processing equipment, with plans to invest an additional Shs3bn for its completion.

The facility is constructed in partnership with a private investor, Food and Nutrition Solutions Ltd (FONUS) and Aringa mango farmers’ cooperative society based in Yumbe district.

When completed, the 6-metric ton per hour mango processing facility will employ close to 200 people directly and over 2000 indirectly.

The factory is designed to process local mangoes grown in the West Nile region that are currently going to waste with no market.

It is the second fruit factory to be constructed in West Nile. Earlier in Arua town, a factory in which the government injected Shs1.2b to co-fund its establishment is dysfunctional at the home of Mr Emmanuel Ajedra along Arua – Rhino Camp road.

The factory was envisioned to process 5 metric tons of mangoes per hour to be supplied by its support fruit farmers in the region.

However, with the progress in Yumbe, Mugasi is optimistic that the factory will provide an abundant market to mangoes in the region, adding that farmers should only protect their mango trees.

“My appeal to people of this region is that safeguard your mangoes. Let each mango tree that is growing in our gardens be treated as a source of income. We should no longer afford to lose even a single mango because a single mango that drops, we are dropping money,” Mugasi said.

“We have brought this factory here for people to make money. This is a great opportunity, use the opportunity so that you can benefit from this factory,” Mugasi emphasized.

DrDr. Mugasi (2R) at the last processing point of Yumbe mango factory on Monday. PHOTO BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI

Dr. Gaston Tumuhimbise, the FONUS Executive Director said the Yumbe mango factory is going to set a pace for rural transformation in West Nile region.

“This factory will be a very good model for other parts of the country. It will show how a local area can engage in industrial activities,” Tumuhimbise said.

“As of now, we are very happy that the factory is in place. It is now our strong believe that the mangoes are going to be bought and this is going to cause a change in the lives of the people of Yumbe and West Nile generally,” said Mr Zubeir Agotre, the Yumbe district commercial officer.

Meanwhile Mr Rasul Drajiga, the Yumbe district assistant chief administrative officer said it has finally been confirmed that the long-awaited project has started.

“This mango factory has made life very difficult for some politicians here just because they will be announcing next year it will be on, and next year comes, it is not on. Today when I see it like this, I see that you have helped some of our leaders,” he said.

On behalf of the district leadership, Drajiga pledged total support to the project by mobilizing locals to produce more mangoes to feed the factory.

“We are a population of close to one million people in Yumbe including refugees. My thinking is with this factory, if we start turning this population into a productive population, we will have enough mangoes for this purpose,” Drajiga said.