The government has allocated land to investors from the United Arab Emirates to establish a pineapple juice processing plant in the Luwero district, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has revealed. Hundreds of farmers in Luweero especially in Kikyusa, Kamira, and Bamunanika sub counties among others have over a decade invested heavily in pineapple farming.
Jimmy Wamala, the Chairperson of the Luwero District Pineapple Growers Association, said that there are currently about 2000 acres of pineapples grown by members of his association. He however noted that most of the pineapples are sold in roadside markets in Luwero and Kampala city at giveaway prices due to the lack of juice processing plants.
The farmers often register bumper harvests, which has always seen a drop in the prices of pineapples to as low as Shillings 700.
During an agricultural expo organized by the office of the Prime Minister in Luwero town council on Sunday, pineapple growers were among the exhibitors and expressed concerns over the lack of a better market for their produce.
Dr Andrew Kidda Makubuya, the Luwero District Production Officer, says that there was a need for the government to help in establishing a juice processing plant to aid value addition to the abundant pineapples and provide a ready market.
Responding to the concerns by farmers while closing the agriculture expo held near Kasana mosque in Luwero town, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja revealed that the government has allocated land to Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed from UAE to establish a pineapple juice processing plant at Bukalasa Agricultural College in Luwero district. Nabbanja said that she would meet the investor for further talks on the matter and ensure that the plant is established.
It’s reported that the government has agreed to give away 100 acres of land to an investor at Bukalasa Agricultural College located in Wobulenzi town for the factory. Bukalasa Agricultural College owns 299.9 acres of land.
The government is also planning to give the same investor another 100,000 acres of land at Kaweweta Military Training School in Nakaseke district to grow pineapples for the processing plant. The investor together with the Ministry of Agriculture officials has already inspected the land.
In February 2008, pineapple farmers in Luwero under the Natural Uganda Cooperative Society Limited petitioned President Museveni demanding a processing plant, to add value to their organic pineapples. President Museveni ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to inject one billion Shillings into the project.
In February 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning released Shillings 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 into the planned project. The land earmarked for the processing plant has been turned into a grazing zone.