Soroti Fruit Factory has restricted its purchase of oranges to farmer groups and associations.
The fruit processing plant that commenced the production of orange and mango juice in April this year is overwhelmed by the high production of oranges. This has forced management to restrict purchase only to registered groups and associations.
So far, the factory has registered 63 groups from 35 districts in Eastern Uganda who supply fruits on appointment. The development follows weeks of queueing of orange trucks that spent days and nights lining up at Soroti Fruit Factory.
The factory located in Arapai Sub County in Soroti district only takes between 45- 55 metric tons per day. It operates one shift of eight hours each day. This has forced farmers to embark on hawking and retail their oranges on the streets of Soroti town.
Joyce Akiteng, a farmer from Otatai Village in Asuret Sub County says she opted to sell her oranges on the streets due to the lengthy processes at the factory. Akiteng explains that although the factory would offer better market for her oranges, she cannot enroll in the group since it requires money.
“To join the group or association for supplying oranges to the factory, you need at least 60, 000 shillings. If I pay that money, it will take me about one month to access money from the factory. Besides, supply of oranges to the factory scheduled because of high production. It doesn’t work for me because I need daily cash for my family upkeep”, she said.
Akiteng shares her tale with several other farmers now selling oranges on the streets of Soroti town. Valentine Opolot, a fruits hawker in Soroti town, says he is better off with his daily sales. He claims that the factory business is stressful due to the formalities required.
Douglas Ndawula Kakyukyu, the Chief Executive Officer at Soroti Fruit Factory, says that they are now more interested in mangoes since orange supply is high. He was however, quick to add that orange farmers can be absorbed, provided they are registered in groups and associations.
URN found Moses Okurut, a farmer from Bukedea district who had just supplied 30 tons of oranges at the factory. He said that the factory has helped them realize money from oranges.
Okurut, who says he has over 4,000 trees of oranges revealed that his energy in fruit farming never paid in the past since he was selling directly to consumers. According to Ndawula, orange production is very high in Teso while other districts in Bugisu and Busoga have mangoes.
Currently, the factory deals with specific variety of oranges and mangoes while other fruits like water melon, pineapple and passion fruits are expected to be in the factory next year.