The Food and Nutrition Solutions (FONUS) Ltd was established by lecturers at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda to provide consultancy services to start-up companies and community based projects in the agriculture, nutrition and health sectors. In October 2014, FONUS, in partnership with Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC) and the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) was awarded a grant by TradeMark East Africa Challenge Fund (TRAC) to support the establishment of a mango processing facility in an isolated district of Northern Uganda. The project involves the creation of a local mango processing facility with a 50 MT daily capacity that can transform the plentiful, but largely wasted mango crop in the Londonga sub-county in Yumbe District into a mango juicing pulp for subsequent use in beverage products.
During the initial stages of the contracting between TRAC and FONUS the latter had identified and provisionally secured 20 acres of land from the Yumbe District Local Government. This land was to be used to establish the processing facility, while also being used to create demonstration gardens where mango agronomic and post-harvest practices would be exhibited to farmers interested in supplying mangos to the FONUS processing facility. However, just as FONUS were in the stages of clearing and fencing the land, issues arose with the immediate community as to who the land actually belonged to. This resulted in the Local Government withdrawing their offer on the land after several attempts had been made by FONUS to arbitrate a settlement.
Following this withdrawal of Government support for the project, FONUS acted swiftly on a home-grown solution to the land asset issue by gathering their own resources and purchasing a 5-acre piece of land privately in Londonga sub-county. To ensure that no land ownership issues would surface again, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the original land owner on 30th June 2015 and a purchase payment was made. In addition to the land sale agreement, a wide grouping of family relations and community members also signed the agreement to demonstrate no local opposition to the sale. This purchase agreement was well-documented to show that FONUS were the new owners of the land.
Following this, a feasibility study was conducted and completed after which FONUS cleared the site of vegetation and installed a boundary fence, using local labour to complete the tasks. Architectural drawings were drawn up and an Environmental Social Impact Assessment was carried out according to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) requirements. FONUS subsequently received clearance from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to proceed with the construction of the processing plant. On 16th March 2016, the foundation slab for the facility was completed. With this first milestone completed it is fair to say that FONUS has successfully overcome a set of complex and significant challenges. With the first milestone having been achieved, the outlook for the implementation of the project is more positive. The construction of the processing plant will lead to approximately 45 new job opportunities for personnel directly employed in the factory. 70,000 farmer households will benefit through the sale of mangoes. The processing plant will also help increase the competitiveness of fruit prices in local markets and thus stimulate a rise in prices and demands for better quality fruit offered by farmers.
As FONUS’ Project Director says: “The facility will do much to raise local farmers’ incomes, improve farming know-how and enable the wider community to introduce a wide range of new education, health and business services that will create employment opportunities for the Yumbe District’s citizens; these new jobs being commercially sustainable.” – William Kyamuhangire