Teso leaders have accused the management of Soroti Fruit Factory of rejecting oranges from Teso and preferring those grown outside the region.
This was revealed during President Museveni’s rally in Soroti on Saturday evening where he met NRM leaders and flag bearers drawn from the districts of Amuria, Kaberamaido, Kalaki, Kapelebyong, and Katakwi Soroti. It all started when the NRM leaders, in their memorandum to the president, indicated that the capacity of the factory in Soroti is too small to accommodate all the oranges in Teso.
“Expand the Soroti Fruit Factory capacity and scope to absorb farmers from Lango, Bukedi and Karamoja regions from the current capacity that can’t handle products from one district. We also want the provision of free pesticides for fruit farmers to contain the current diseases affecting fruits in the region”, the memorandum read in part.
In his address, President Museveni asked the leaders about the progress of the factory. The Soroti LC-V chairperson Gregory Mikairi Egunyu and Ngora Woman MP, Jacqueline Amongin explained the challenges facing the fruit factory. Some of the leaders argued that the factory was not accepting ranges grown in Teso.
Dr Okasai Opolot, the former director of Crop Science at the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries who participated in the establishment of Soroti Fruit Factory, said the factory could be looking for cheaper oranges to save money. He said the fruit factory was recommended for Washington Navo, Valencio and Hamlin orange varieties.
Last year, Soroti Fruit Factory restricted the purchase of oranges to only farmer groups and associations due to the overwhelming supply of oranges from Teso sub-region.
Douglas Ndawula Kakyukyu, the chief executive officer at Soroti Fruit Factory said that they were only interested in mangoes since orange supply was beyond capacity. The fruit processing plant that commenced the production of orange and mango juice in April this year, takes between 45 and 55 tonnes per day.