President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Thursday commissioned Kike Tropical Fruits Limited, an extraction and refinery plant in Kakooge, Nakasongola district.
Museveni thanked Francis Mugabe, the proprietor of the factory, and his family for joining Uganda’s fight against poverty.
In the same spirit, he also thanked Olivia Mugabe for persuading her brother to set up the factory.
“I found that daughter of mine in Austria. She told me she wants to come back to Uganda and add a brick to the development of our country. I suggested to her that she find a market in Austria so that they buy our products. She managed to get the market and then came back here to get what she could sell to them,”said the President.
“When she realized that the Austrian market needs standard processed fruits, she mobilized her brother Francis to set up the factory. I want to thank Olivia and Francis for having spectacles that see far.
“You know, you Ugandans want to import a lot. Francis was an importer but later realized that he can manufacture what Ugandans import.”
Museveni further assured Mugabe of his government’s support.
“The problem is not money, the problem is the people who can execute the work we want. You will get more money from Uganda Development Bank (UDB).
“The other issue of tax will also be handled.”
The President reiterated his call on commercial agriculture, with calculation, being one of the best ways of fighting poverty and creating wealth.
He said the people in Luwero started to grow fruits like pineapples “because we talked so much about it at that time and Francis didn’t know that I had started the campaign for the apples in the highlands like Kabale”.
He added: “From one acre of apples, you can get a lot of money. The problem was on our side: planning. We tried to build a fruit factory in Soroti, but it was poorly built, I think they stole the money. That is why I was now struggling with Olivia to see whether we can get private investors.”
Museveni also donated a Fuso truck to the fruit farmers in Greater Luweero to help them transport their agricultural produce.
Like Museveni, he also thanked Mugabe for joining the crusade of industrialization and for offering jobs to the Ugandan youth.
Kasaija also assured him of government support in order for him to develop and sustain the facility.
“Your Excellency, I came here about a year ago because Francis came to office and he was complaining that he does not have money to expand his factory. So, I came here to see what he was doing and as you have heard, we talked to Uganda Development Bank and they have done what they could do,” said the finance minister.
“I want to assure him that if you want more money, please come and see us.
“We shall see how we can help you so that you can expand. On the issue of unfavourable taxes, we are going to sort that out because we cannot afford to have an entrepreneur of this type stalled. It means we are not doing what we are supposed to do.”
“Many Ugandans like Francis Mugabe have heard your advice of adding value to our agricultural products,” said Evelyn Anite, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatization.
“Mr Mugabe, the way you are performing, I can just assure you that poverty is history in your family because our President has been guiding us that the place we can actually contribute to the transformation of ourselves and the economy if you really want to make money, is value addition in agriculture and therefore, you chose the right business,” she noted.
The man himself, Mugabe, thanked the President, saying it was a special day for him, Kike Tropical Fruits and fellow traders in Greater Luweero who have supported him for the last 20 years of doing business.
He said the fruits they use in the factory are supplied by local farmers from across the country.
“Not only do we offer them ready market, but we also employ their children,” said Mugabe, adding that the factory now exports its pineapple concentrate to the European Union market.
“Our products have been tested and they meet the required standards of the EU market and that is why we are exporting.”
Due to increased demand for the factory’s products, Mugabe informed the President that he had to acquire a loan from UDB to upscale and expand the capacity.
“Your Excellency, we were able to be financed half of what we requested because we lacked collateral, but I think we shall harmonize that.
“We are meeting only 30 per cent of the required volumes of mango pulp for our local customers, so we are missing out on the remaining 70 per cent. Your Excellency, we need you to support us and acquire machines that can contain that capacity so that we can take up the remaining 70 percent.”
His sister, Olivia, said: “The patriotism of my family inspired me to serve my mother country. My role in Kike was to provide advice to my brother Francis and to make market linkages internationally.
“Kike is the answer to value addition to mangoes and pineapples and also boosting income to our farmers.”
It has a processing capacity of 1,000 metric tonnes of fresh fruits each season and has registered and supports more than 1,000 farmers of mangoes, pineapples and passion fruits from the districts of Greater Luwero Greater Masaka, West Nile, Northern and Bukedi sub-regions.
The factory adds value to Ugandan grown mangoes, pineapples and passion fruit and it looking to start processing apples.
Kike has acquired national and international accreditation and certification.
It employs 500 workers directly and indirectly impacts over 10,000 small-holder fruit farmers across the country.