President Yoweri Museveni has asked the people of Teso Sub-Region in Eastern Uganda to continue growing fruits because it is the medicine to get them out of household poverty since the venture commands global market.
“I encouraged the people of Teso who had small land to stop growing cotton and go for fruits, dairy farming and fish farming because they are the products that can give money on a small scale piece of land. Although it took long, I am happy that the people of Teso got the message. I hear that you planted 8.2 million fruit trees. I can see them from above the ground,” he said.
Mr Museveni was speaking at the launch of the commercial operations for Soroti Fruit Factory in Arapai Sub-County, Aloet village in Soroti District last week.
The launch of the operations followed the earlier commissioning of the construction work on the factory, which the President did in September 2014.
The factory is financed by the government of Uganda through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) while the Korean National Cooperation Agency (KOICA) contributed US$7.4 million.
Employing about 150 people directly in the plant and more than 1,000 farmers in the region, the facility currently makes orange and mango juice and the future plans entail making a variety of fruit juices.
The factory currently produces 96 metric tonnes of mango and orange juice per day but it its full operation, it will be able to employ 250 people directly in the factory and over two million in the production chain links in the Teso Sub-Region.
South Korean support
In the statement issued on Saturday, President Museveni commended South Korea for assisting the Uganda government with the US$7.4 million to start up the fruit factory.
He, however, noted that it was very possible for Uganda to invest equally the same amount adding that the government needed assistance from Korea in terms of machines and technocrats.
Mr Museveni expressed happiness with the accelerating progress of Uganda’s economy. He explained that this was so because the country had invested in the right projects, like electricity, roads, education and now was planning on the railway.
“The other day, I saw the report of the World Bank saying that the economies of African countries were growing at 2.3 percent while the rest of the other world was growing at 3percent. But the economy of Uganda is growing at 6 percent. How can the economy not grow when we are investing in the right things,” he wondered.
On the issue of irrigation, Mr Museveni said that there is need to encourage micro-irrigation at the village level adding that water would be drawn from rivers and boreholes that would help to fight drought conditions in the region.
Trade Minister, Ms Amelia Kyambadde said that the launching of the fruit factory is a milestone in the revival of the economy.
She said that the facility is a fulfillment of the NRM Manifesto of 2006 and thanked the President for his support and political will.
South Korean Ambassador Uganda, Mr Kim You-Churl thanked the government of Uganda for putting confidence in his country as partner in the establishment of the factory.
“The Korean experts carefully studied the project and put them in line with the goals of Uganda,” he said.
Mr You-Churl said that the establishment of the factory will not only bring more jobs but will also increase the productivity of farmers and bilateral relations.
He reiterated that it was the wish of the South Korean government to share the profits made from the factory with the farmers.
According to the Chairperson of UDC, Mr Ham Mugenyi, the factory is a big investment to the people of Teso and Uganda.
He reiterated that it would help boost the household incomes of people in Teso through offering jobs both directly and indirectly.
Mr Mugenyi thanked President Museveni for reviving the UDC and pledged that the Corporation would deliver rapid transformation to other projects that it is undertaking.
By David Sseguya