The government has started sourcing for a private entity that will take over the operations of Soroti fruit factory which produces Teso juice (Teju) products.
This was confirmed by the State Minister for Teso Affairs, Kenneth Ongalo while meeting the Teso district LC5 chairpersons in Soroti yesterday.
He said the decision to have the entity privatized was reached after a frustrating spell that has seen the factory fail to make profits despite continued investment by the government through Uganda Development Corporation.
Soroti fruit factory is 80% owned by the government through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) while the 20% shares are owned by the farmers through the Teso Tropical Fruit Growers Cooperative Union (TETFGCU)
Ongalo said the decision to make the plant benefit the people of Teso is a presidential directive.
“The president asked the prime minister to engage the relevant government entities to have the fruit factory privatized, and I am part of the team that is working on the matter,” he said.
He confirmed to the leaders that the factory is on life support, adding that every year the factory is allocated a budget, but despite that, it has continued to register losses.
Ongalo confirmed that an Ethiopian-based investor has been approached as the suitable person to whom the plant can be privatized under the presidential directive, adding that President Museveni’s long-term dream of having the citrus industry turn the fortunes of Teso is still on.
Ongalo says every year, over Shs5 billion is allocated to the Soroti fruit factory under UDC but there is little or no progress being registered.
“I know the pain that the presidential directive will cause because jobs will be lost but for the good of the citrus farmers in the region, this is the way to go,” the minister explained.
Ongalo says they will meet the preferred investor to discuss the way forward.