Vice President Jessica Alupo, a citrus farmer herself, has voiced dissatisfaction over the low prices offered to fruit farmers, despite the establishment of the Soroti Fruit Factory aimed at bolstering their income.
Alupo’s disappointment stems from the factory’s inability to purchase fruits from farmers in Teso and neighboring areas, despite being operational for five years.
During a fact-finding mission, Alupo engaged with the factory management to understand the reasons behind its failure to absorb the abundance of fruits produced in the region.
She expressed concern over farmers being forced to sell their produce at low prices, contrary to the factory’s purpose of uplifting agricultural communities out of poverty.
The Soroti Fruit Factory, with limited processing capacity and insufficient working capital, struggles to meet the demand for oranges in Teso, estimated at eight million citrus trees.
CEO Julius Ekomu highlighted the factory’s challenges, including the need for substantial capital to purchase fruits from farmers and expand operations.
Despite a government promise of financial support, delays in funding have hindered the factory’s ability to scale up production and effectively support local farmers.
Alupo pledged to advocate for the release of funds from the Ministry of Finance to address the factory’s capital needs and enhance its purchasing capacity.
While the factory managed to procure some oranges last season with limited funds, the quantity was insufficient to meet the region’s production levels.
Newly appointed board chairman Onapito Ekomoloit acknowledged operational challenges but expressed optimism about overcoming bottlenecks to ensure the factory’s success.