YUMBE. Yumbe mango factory that was commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni on January 9, 2021 is yet to start operations.

The delay in operationalization of the factory has made the farmers in Yumbe district to become impatient as the mangoes for this season are almost getting finished.

Speaking to West Nile Web on phone last week, Mr Alli Dudu, a farmer in Lodonga sub county said it would be good if the mango processing starts early because mangoes get wasted too much.

He said this period should have been the best for the factory to get good tonnes of mangoes but people have resorted to selling them in the local markets after waiting for the operationalization of the factory in vain.

"I am ready to supply the factory with mangoes but if the operationalization of the plant delays, we (farmers) shall miss this opportunity because once mangoes begin to ripen, it will not last for long," he said.

Dudu said he has about 10acres of mangoes in his farm that can earn him something to help the family.

Mr Ismail Azubu, another farmer said, the farmers in the district were told to form cooperatives so that they can sell their mangoes collectively to the factory but the formed cooperatives have not been active.

"Cooperatives were formed successfully across the district and farmers registered themselves in these cooperatives but we are stranded because there is nothing like meetings and updates on the fate of the cooperatives. We don't know how we are going to sell our mangoes if the factory starts operations", he said.

But according to the senior commercial officer, Mr Victor Guma, the issue of the cooperatives has not yet been streamlined.

He said NAADs secretariat made it clear that it would be the cooperatives to sell mangoes to the factory and there was a plan to put middle men between the factory and the farmers but this is yet in process.

"We have a challenge with the leadership of the cooperatives because some people from outside the district want to hijack the leadership of the cooperatives which is causing all the delays", he said.

Ms Khadija Nakakande, communications officer at NAADs secretariat said the latest information is that the engineers are still working on the factory compound, perimeter wall fence and the stores for receiving mangoes and keeping finished products.

She said the pending works were earlier not part of the contract because Food and Nutrition Solution (FoNuS), a private company that initiated the project asked the government to support them with only the equipment.

"The government through NAADs secretariat agreed to support them with equipment so we bought and installed the equipment but afterwards FoNuS asked for another support to construct the perimeter wall, stores and the compound so for that matter we had to go into another agreement that caused the delays in operationalization of the factory", she said.

"The factory is not initiated by the government but rather professors from Makerere University and our task was to assist them with equipment so we have already done our part," she added.

Mango F WorkersA section of workers during the technical handover. ALL PHOTOS BY ROBERT ELEMA.

She said before the end of the calendar year 2021, processing of mangoes will begin.

Prof William Kyamuhangire, the director Food and Nutrition Solution (FoNuS) said mango processing will begin this season but declined to tell the exact date for the factory to start operations.

"The factory is complete with the equipment installed but the remaining works will not compel us from processing mangoes. Constructions will continue as we proceed with mango processing", he said.

On July 6, 2021, there was a technical launch of the factory where some mangoes were processed to test the functionality of the installed equipment and the stakeholders were all excited of the quality of the finished products.

The mango factory construction process started in 2015. It's production capacity is five metric tonnes per hour and it will be processing mainly local mangoes.

The project is being undertaken by FoNuS, a company owned by Makerere University lecturers from the school of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering with a cost of over $4million(about Shs17.6b