Some of the none-functioning box sun dryers
A group of farmers involved in adding value to pineapples in Kayunga district are struggling to repair their solar box dryers. Through their umbrella, Kisega Horticulture Grower’s Association-KHGA, the more than 60 farmers found in Kangulumira Sub County, say they are unable to repair the solar box dryers because of the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted their business.
The farmers had secured two big solar dryers and about 50 small solar box dryers with support from Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund-MAK-RIF to dry pineapples so as to create a sustainable market. Ibin-Abas Muhamad, the Patron KHGA says most of their dryers were damaged when farmers lost interest after registering heavy losses during the lockdown.
The dryers, which are fitted with polythene and wire mesh, are used to dry pineapples. Muhammad says the polythene material used to cover the dryer used to cost Shillings 60,000 before the COVID-19 pandemic but now costs Shillings 200, 000. He explains that before they suspended their activities, each farmer had registered a loss of approximately Shillings 30million in dried pineapples.
The farmers used to sell the dried pineapples to Kenyan traders. A kilogram of dried pineapples costs Shillings 25, 000. Muhammad says MAK-RIF promised to extend to them support once the university fully resumes its operations.
Hamis Kakembo, a pineapple farmer at Nongo in Kangulumira town council appeals to the government to extend support to their project. He says that value addition makes sense at a period like this when there is a bumper harvest for pineapples since they can preserve them for future use.
Dr. David Mugabi, the Kayunga District Production Officer, says that they are currently engaging the government and other stakeholders to support the farmers.
He says that they will also continue reminding the government to through the National Agricultural Advisory Services to expedite the construction of a multi-billion pineapple juice processing factory to assist reduce the losses incurred by farmers due to lack proper market.