By the time of its establishment in 2019, statistics suggested that Teso sub-region had more than eight million fruit trees to support the production of juice. But when the factory started production, less than half of the farmers in Teso were able to supply fruits to the factory.
Soroti Fruit Factory has acquired five more acres of
land for its expansion following an outcry from farmers over the limited production
capacity. The land acquisition is geared towards addressing limited
production in the next three years.
By the time of its establishment in 2019, statistics
suggested that Teso sub-region had more than eight million fruit trees to
support the production of juice. But when the factory
started production, less than half of the farmers in Teso were able to supply
fruits to the factory.
The factory restricted its purchase of oranges to registered
farmer groups and associations. This forced some farmers to cut down orange
trees in different parts of Teso. The factory serving more than 30 districts in
Eastern Uganda had registered only 63 groups to supply oranges and mangoes on order.
This left several trucks carrying fruits queueing at the factory
premises for days. The situation at Soroti Fruit Factory attracted the attention
of local leaders and Members of Parliament who carried out a special audit at the
Julius Martin Ekomu, the Finance Manager at Soroti
Fruits Limited, says that they have commenced plans to expand the factory with the
allocation of UGX. 56.9B from the government. He says that the expansion plans
include the acquisition of land for the warehouses and a water cleaning system.
Ekomu says that they have installed a new mango line with
the capacity to crush 120 metric tons per day. This, according to Ekomu is an
improvement from the lone 48 metric tons orange line that has been in use
since 2019. The factory is also installing a weighbridge to ease work
for both the farmers and staff.
// cue in “Uganda Investment…
Cue out…cleaning system,”//
The factory that sits in the Industrial and Business Park is
under the Uganda Investment Authority. It’s manned by Uganda Development
Corporation (UDC), which owns 80 percent shares while Teso Tropical Cooperative
Union holds 20 percent.
Soroti Fruit Factory is funded by the Korea International
Development Agency (KOICA) and the Government of Uganda through (UDC) while UIA
provided the land.
On February 8, 2022, Jonathan Ebwalu, the Soroti City West
Division MP raised several allegations on the floor of Parliament of gross
abuse of office and resources, and unfulfilled financial obligations affecting the factory. This prompted the Deputy Speaker of Parliament then, Anita Among to
order an investigation into the claims.
In the fact-finding report compiled by a team led by the Mbarara City South
MP, Mwine Mpaka, the committee revealed several irregularities, which
included the rotting of the farmers’ fruits due to the limited capacity of the factory
to consume the fruits being harvested and supplied to them, financial
mismanagement and administrative flaws.
This later attracted the attention of
the President who delegated his Vice President Jessica Alupo to intervene. According to Ekomu, they have a three-year development plan
to put the factory into a position that will change the lives of the people in