It's the peak of mango season in Acholi now. The truck’s arrival comes as a sigh of relief and hope to many farmers and vendors in the region who have lost a lot income due to lack of markets for the mangoes, hence affecting their livelihoods.
As the mango season enters its peak with limited market, fruit
farmers in Acholi sub region can now have a sigh of relief after government ventured
into piloting a mango juice processing project.
Through a strategic partnership, Gulu University backed by Operation
Wealth Creation, and Makerere University School of Food Technology acquired a juice processing truck under the Presidential Initiative to process the mango juice and save farmers from the annual revenue loss as the mangoes rot away due to lack of market.
The multi-million truck was delivered to the University last week on Friday. James Onono Ojok, the Gulu University Assistant Public Relations Officer says the juice processing truck is already stationed at the campus, Business Incubation Centre to pilot processing of juice from fresh mangoes.
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Onono told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that the
truck will produce 5 tons
of juice every day. He also revealed that the University is already working out a modality of how they will buy the mangoes from the farmers or how the farmers who are near by can deliver the raw materials at a competitive price.
Hellen Aya, a fruit
vendor at Gulu City Central Market says the juice truck has come very timely and gives hope for income generation among the fruit farmers in Acholi and improve livelihood.
Walter Opiyo, a resident
of Gulu West Division says the juice processing truck is a brilliant idea but should be used transparently to benefit the target beneficiaries in order to industrialize the local economy in the region which is still grappling with poverty.
Gulu University Faculty of Agriculture and department of
Food Sciences and Post-Harvest Technology will take lead in the pilot scheme. Trucks
will traverse villages to buy fresh mangoes from the farmers.
Currently, a basin
full of mangoes costs as little as Shillings 2,000 but with the juice
processing pilot scheme in place, the price of mangoes will double according to
Onono, in order to transform the lives of post-war community.
David Obol Otori, the University Secretary said the pilot is to develop a long
term strategy how Gulu University can in the future be supported to develop its
own processing plan to stop wastage of Mangoes in Acholi.
Gulu Resident District Commissioner Odong Stephen Latek, who was part of the
team that welcomed the truck said it is time for Gulu University to demonstrate
its capacity by making the pilot a success to attract government funding and
support on the juice plant.
The truck that belongs to Makerere University and procured under the Presidential
Initiative is expected to be producing about 5 metric tons of juice depending
on the supply of raw materials from the area farmers.