Income Generation through Ecological Fruit Processing
Agricultural markets in Uganda are currently characterised by disorderliness and lack of standards. In many of such markets, there are "invisible cartels" which operate the business and impose barriers (both tariff and non-tariff) for farmers who may wish to access them.
Marketing of agricultural produce in the rural setting is very hazardous and one of the biggest challenges farmers face in the farming business. Farmers face a multitude of problems in that they make un-informed decisions which at most times show disastrous result. This is further aggravated by lack of protection by the GoU and other prohibitive policies such as liberalisation that have unleashed forces of the free market on to the small farmers. In addition, farmers suffer tremendous pre- and post-harvest losses due to the kind of farming techniques they employ. These can range between 5-15% for low-perishable crops (grains), 20-35% for semi-perishables (root crops) and 40% for high perishables (fruits and vegetables).
Uganda is far from tapping the potential of processing and exporting dried fruits and vegetables as shown by the limited number of fruit processors and exporters currently available. (Agona et al., 2002). The project builds on the local potentials which include significant amounts of fruits grown by the farmers and their local knowledge of producing and harvesting fruits. The interventions of this project aim at increasing market access and improving market information available to farmers. Therefore, they are enabled to make well-informed decisions and achieve higher prices for their produce. Furthermore, farmers selling their produce to the fruit drying unit will be offered fair prices and contracts with farmers' associations ensure reliable and constant sale of their fresh produce. Providing value-added processing technologies opens new markets for fruit growers in the project area.