As the mango season enters its peak amidst a limited market, fruit farmers in Acholi sub-region can now have a sigh of relief after the government ventured into piloting a mango juice processing project.
Through a strategic partnership, Gulu University, backed by Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), and Makerere University's school of food technology, acquired a juice processing truck under the presidential initiative to process mango juice and save farmers from the annual revenue loss as mangoes rot away due to lack of market.
The multi-million truck was delivered to the university last week on Friday. James Onono Ojok, Gulu University assistant public relations officer says the juice processing truck is already stationed at the business incubation centre to pilot the processing of mango pulp from fresh mangoes.
Onono says that the truck will produce 5 tons of juice every day. He also revealed that the university is already working out a modality of how they will buy the mangoes from farmers or how the farmers who are nearby can deliver the raw materials at a competitive price.
Hellen Aya, a fruit vendor at Gulu city central market says the juice truck is timely and gives hopes of income generation and improved livelihoods among the fruit farmers in Acholi.
Walter Opiyo, a resident of Gulu West Division says the juice processing truck is a brilliant idea but should be used transparently to benefit the target beneficiaries in order to industrialize the local economy in the region which is still grappling with poverty.
Currently, a basin full of mangoes costs as little as Shs 2,000 but with the juice processing pilot scheme in place, the price of mangoes will double according to Onono, in order to transform the lives of post-war community.
David Obol Otori, the university secretary said the pilot is to develop a long-term strategy on how Gulu University can in the future be supported to develop its own processing plan to mitigate wastage of mangoes in Acholi.
Gulu resident district commissioner Odong Stephen Latek, who was part of the team that received the truck said it is time for Gulu University to demonstrate its capacity by making the pilot a success to attract government funding and support on the juice plant.