UGANDA – The Ugandan government has begun searching for a private entity to assume control of the Soroti fruit factory, which produces Teso juice (Teju) products.

The news was confirmed by Kenneth Ongalo, the state minister for Teso Affairs, during a meeting with the Teso district LC5 chairpersons in Soroti.

He said the decision to privatize the entity was reached after a frustrating period in which the factory failed to generate profits, despite continued government investment through the Uganda Development Corporation.

Soroti Fruit Factory is 80% owned by the government through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), while the remaining 20% of shares are owned by the farmers through the Teso Tropical Fruit Growers Cooperative Union (TETFGCU).

“The president asked the prime minister to engage the relevant government entities in order to privatize the fruit factory, and I am part of the team responsible for this task,” he said.

He confirmed to the leaders that the factory is on life support, adding that despite being allocated a budget every year, the factory has continued to register losses.

Ongalo confirmed that an Ethiopian-based investor has been approached as a suitable candidate for the privatization of the plant, in accordance with the presidential directive.

He added that President Museveni’s long-term vision of using the citrus industry to improve the economic situation in Teso is still intact.

Ongalo says that every year, over Shs5 billion (USD 1.33m) is allocated to the Soroti fruit factory under UDC, but little to no progress is being registered.

“I understand that the presidential directive will result in job losses, but it is necessary for the benefit of the citrus farmers in the region,” the minister explained.

In a May report by the Daily Monitor, farmers from the Teso Sub-region expressed their disappointment, stating that they had lost hope as there had been no significant improvements in their lives since the government launched the fruit factory in 2019.

According to the report, some farmers have resorted to cutting down entire orange orchards to make room for other agricultural projects.

The decision to privatize the factory may turn out to be a blessing for these farmers, who have seen the cost of production exceed the retail price.

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