The Food and Nutrition Solutions Ltd (FONUS) is in the advanced stages of establishing a mango processing facility in Yumbe District, northern Uganda. The project is partly funded by TradeMark East Africa Challenge Fund (TRAC), the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) as well as the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC) of Makerere University.
The planned facility will process 50 metric tonnes of mangos per day into preserved pulp for use in beverage products. The mango pulp to be produced will be purchased by local mango juice processors with any surplus being exported to Arabian and East African countries who have already expressed a willingness to buy.
The mango processing facility in Yumbe District aims to assist 70,000 small-scale mango farmer households. At the present time approximately 85% of harvested mangos in the peak season of March to June go to waste due to a lack of access to markets for the product, due to a combination of an absence of processing infrastructure and weak logistics support. As a result of these factors farmers have resorted to cutting down the mango trees and processing the wood into charcoal that has ready market in nearby urban centres. All this is set to change when the mango processing facility is established as the facility will have an overall positive impact on uncontrolled deforestation mitigating the effects of climate change since the majority of the tree cover in this area is provided by the mango tree.
FONUS faced challenges to the implementation of its project as the acquisition of land originally earmarked for the facility by the Ugandan Government proved problematic due to unresolved local Yumbe District ownership issues between the Ugandan Government and squatters claiming land use rights. However, the land procurement issue was resolved by FONUS who secured additional funding support from their bankers and moved swiftly to purchase approximately 4 acres of alternative prime land in Yumbe District where the mango processing facility will be established. Following the completion of the feasibility study, FONUS have cleared the area, installed their boundary fencing and completed the architectural drawings in advance of the regulatory approvals.
Additionally, clearance from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), which is a critical requirement, has been obtained. Following this, the process for procuring the services of a contractor is underway and FONUS anticipate that the groundworks and laying of foundations for the facility will have begun by the end of December 2015.
As FONUS’ Project Director says: “Where there are challenges, one always finds opportunities and the fruit and fruit juice industry in Uganda presents several opportunities as a virgin sub-sector for industrial investment and market development.” – William Kyamuhangire