SOROTI - Teso is celebrating the opening of a fruit factory that is going to offer jobs to hundreds.
Soroti fruit factory, which will be launched by President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday has offered 123 jobs to the youths who have already taken up their positions.
“That number is for the start but in a year or two, we intend to increase the number to 249,” said the chief executive officer, Soroti fruit factory Douglas Ndawula.
He explained that 78.6% of the employees hail from Teso sub-region while 21.4% come from outside Teso sub-region.
As the factory continues to progress, Ndawula believes that about 1,000 people will get indirect or direct jobs from the factory.
Aside from employment, excitement is visible on the faces of Teso fruit farmers who have been lacking a market for their oranges and mangoes.
“This government has sent us a special Easter! The education of our children and our welfare is going to be sorted since our fruits shall have a market,” Peter Omoding, a farmer from Gweri said.
The oranges that the factory will be processing include Hamelin, Washington, and Valencia plus improved mangoes.
“We have the capacity to process watermelon, passion fruits, pineapple, and apple but we don’t have enough of those fruits in plenty, that is why we started with oranges and mangoes that are available,” explained Ndawula.
He says the factory has the capacity to process 6,000kg of oranges and 4,000kg of mangoes per hour.
Ndawula also noted that the factory will be consuming 129,000 metric tonnes of oranges and mangoes annually.
Farmers, through their umbrella, Teso tropical fruit farmer’s cooperative have 20% shares while the government through Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) has 80% shares.
The farmers’ cooperatives will be responsible for the supply of the fruits to the factory.
“The prices we are going to offer will be better than the current price, remarked the board chairperson of the factory Josephine Okot.
The factory was built with a grant of $8m from the Korean and $2m the Ugandan government.
“Unlike some carbonated drinks, the natural juice from Soroti factory has no single carbon,” Okot explained.
She said the juice will come in unique spouts of 200mls branded Teju juice and those spouts are biodegradable materials, which can decompose and cause no effect on the environment.
Okot further explained that Soroti juice will lead to healthier lives because it will not have any chemicals.
“I encourage farmers in Teso to join cooperatives so that we sell at the price we will negotiate with the factory. Without cooperatives, we will not benefit,” Jorem Opian, the chairman of the famers in Teso said.
He explained that Teso has got two million trees and farmers were eager to grow more except that they have not been sure of the market.