In a bid to help pineapple farmers in Kalangala District and Greater Masaka Region as a whole to add value to their agricultural produce, the government, through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), is set to establish a factory that will process juice and other products from pineapples.
This was revealed by the NAADS spokesperson Hadija Nakakande on Thursday, who said that after doing research, they found out that the best seedlings to give the people of Kalangala are for pineapples and those are the ones they distributed to farmers.
She noted that NAADS distributed seedlings to farmers in districts such as; Masaka, Kalangala, Lwengo, Kyotera, Kalungu, and Rakai.
“We are looking at around between 8 and 10 million pineapple suckers that have been distributed in this region since 2014,” Nakakande. Six years down the road we have seen a gradual increase in production and of course, as the production increased, we started getting complaints from our farmers because of the issue of the market, also the issue of fertilizer pesticides, especially the costs.
That has been the major concern raised by our farmers. Of course on the side of pests and fertilizers, that area we have not yet got into that to support our farmers but hopefully, as our resource envelope as NAADS increases, we will be able to support our farmers in that area. But what we are looking at right now, what can solve the challenges of our farmers is providing a value addition facility. When you look at greater Masaka, the production we have here can sustain a value addition facility.”
“So as NAADS we have already started conducting the feasibility study. We are looking at the production capacity of our farmers. We are looking at the viability of this facility, to see whether we can go ahead to establish this factory. But with the little information, we have already acquired, we see that the factory will work very well in the greater Masaka region. So we expect the feasibility study to be completed by the end of September and hopefully, it will guide us on, first of all, the location and economic viability of the project,”she added.
Luweero Triangle Project
Besides the Greater Masaka Region, NAADs have also helped farmers from Luweero Triangle improve their standards of living by encouraging them to engage in pineapple growing.
One of the most successful farmers is Jimmy Wamala, 38, who dropped out of school over 20 years ago due to lack of school fees, but his future has since brightened ever since he started growing pineapples.
He says the experience forced him to think outside the proverbial box and started doing small income-generating projects to earn a living. Eventually, Wamala decided to venture into farming. Today he is a successful pineapples farmer.
A resident of Luweero District and a primary seven dropouts, Wamala has since turned pineapples farming into a gold mine earning handsomely from his agricultural practices. His farm sits on 40 acres and is adjacent to several coffee gardens.
Wamala says it has not been an easy journey, but a result of hard work and perseverance.
He notes that he settled for pineapples growing because of encouragement from, Luweero district technical personnel.
“When NAADS organized training for farmers in Luweero, I was encouraged by the district officials to attend and the fact that the weather conditions and soils in Luweero are suitable for the crop. I gladly embraced the training to learn new ideas regarding the pineapple cultivation,” he recalls.
They were also equipped with skills ranging from early land preparation, planting in proper lines, post-harvest handling, pests and disease control, among others.
Later after the training, the NAADS secretariat through Operation Wealth Creation supported him with 200,000 pineapple suckers in 2014.
From the exposure field visits of farmers who had embraced pineapples farming before him, he was motivated to hire huge chunks of land to plant all the pineapple suckers.
He has since progressed from hiring 30 acres to 100 acres and has extended his farm to Kakooge in Nakasongola District, where he owns about 50 acres all under pineapple cultivation.
His target is to earn handsomely from his sweat.
“From my farming practices I make sure I earn Sh7m every month from pineapples sales but my target is Shs25m in the next three years,” Wamala said.
He has also mobilized and formed an association-Luweero Pineapples Farmers and Traders Association, a farmer’s group which consists of 40 farmers, aimed at offering production support services to pineapple farmers and looking for a ready market to sell their perishable produce as quickly as possible.