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Govt working to revive Soroti Fruit Factory after mismanagement by UDC, says Nabbanja

KAMPALA, November 27, 2023 – Government through Uganda Development Corporation [UDC] is developing regulations for partnership with former Ethiopia First Lady, Azeb Mesfin Haile, to manage the Soroti Fruit Factory, according to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.

She said this while responding to Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among’s concern last week on whether the factory had been given out to a private investor, following previous concerns by Soroti West Division legislator, Jonathan Ebwalu, on the matter.

Among raised the concern while chairing the plenary sitting on Thursday.

“Soroti Fruit Factory has not been given out. The factory had limitations that can be done away with. UDC has mismanaged this factory but the President [Museveni] said the former first lady of Ethiopia has capacity to help us revamp the factory,” Nabanjja said.

She added that the Attorney General is reviewing the regulations for the partnership and that the Auditor General is carrying out necessary audits.

Ephraim Biraaro, the Buhweju West County MP  raised concerns about leaving UDC to manage the partnership with the private investor.

“The Prime Minister has just said that UDC mismanaged the factory but is partnering with a private investor to revamp it. Can we get clarification on this?” Biraaro asked.

The Amuria District Woman MP, Susan Amero asked the Prime Minister to present a  report to the House on what has been done as per the recommendations given by the Committee of Trade following its investigation into the mismanagement of Soroti Fruit Factory.

Among the raft of recommendations contained in the Committee report that was presented to the House in March 2022, was that the 20 percent shares in the factory allegedly owned by  Teso Tropical Fruits Cooperative Union, be opened up to other farmer cooperatives and unions in Teso sub-region for subscription and acquisition of interest the company.

The Committee also recommended that the IGG investigates the factory’s CEO Douglas Ndawula and the entire management of the factory for possible inflation of the cost of operations and other related expenditures in financial year 2020/2021.

The Committee also made a recommendation for government to provide the factory with funds to procure an orange fruit processing line for the processing of oranges which are predominantly grown by farmers in the Teso sub-region.

The Speaker tasked the Premier to present an action taken report on the recommendations that were given in the Committee report.

Nabbanja said the resolutions of the Committee report presented the background for the President’s recommendation.

“I will come with a detailed report that has concrete answers on how far we have gone and where we are in regard to the resolutions of the Committee on Tourism Trade and Industry,” said Nabbanja.

Relatedly, Soroti County MP, Patrick Aeku called on the Prime Minister to arrange for spraying of orange fruits in the district which have been attacked by an unknown pest.

“Even when the farmers maintain the trees, the rot continues and even spreads to other trees. I pray that the Ministry of Agriculture fumigates these trees just the way the locusts were sprayed and eradicated,” Aeku said.

The Prime Minister said she would liaise with the MP to provide a technical solution.

Soroti Fruit Factory is owned by Soroti Fruits Limited, which is supposed to improve household incomes of farmers by linking them to the final consumer through value addition.

The factory is supposed to be exclusively supplied with fruits such as oranges and mangoes from Ugandan farmers across Teso region and beyond through farmer groups, associations and cooperatives.

The company is supposed to work  farmer groups, farmer associations, primary societies, farmer NGOs, farmer companies and cooperative unions to effectively supply the factory.
Further is it supposed to sensitise farmers on routine sensitisation of farmers on the varieties and types of fruits required as well as the quality, processes and procedures for fruit supply to the factory are consciously done as part of our sustainability agenda.

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