The long-awaited new Cassava Starch Factory in Mbale district is scheduled to open in May. The 375 million shilling plant would be the only one in Uganda after the Lira Cassava Starch Factory, a subsidiary of Uganda Development Corporation which closed down in 1985 due to political instability in the area.
The starch plant would be the only one in Uganda after the Lira Cassava Starch Factory, a subsidiary of Uganda Development Corporation which closed down in 1985 due to political instability in the area.
The 375 million shilling plant is located at Busoba trading centre, about seven kilometers from Mbale town on the Mbale -Tororo highway.
Atul Sanjay, the Managing Director of Yogi Agro Industries Limited, an Indian Firm that owns the factory says the plant is due to be commissioned in May this year. He says everything is in place and workers are fixing what he called some basic machines before the plant is tested and commissioned.
Sanjay says the plant would directly employ about 1,500 people as well as indirectly providing jobs for between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
He is optimistic that the Cassava Starch Factory would boost cassava production in the eastern and Northern Uganda belt which is known for growing the crop in large quantities. He says the livelihoods of Cassava farmers in the area would be improved as the factory would be transforming cassava into higher value, processed products.
//Cue in: “Starch factory is…
Cue out: … of the starch.”//
He notes that in Uganda, cassava and sweet potato are considered famine reserve crops and processing has not been developed as in other tropical countries.
He said that much of the root and tuber harvest is consumed in the primary form after boiling or roasting and processing techniques are limited to traditional methods, which generally produce low quality products that are constrained to low prices within the local marketing system.
Sanjay explained that the small-scale processing sector has not been developed noting that during the 1980s Uganda had an industrial plant to process cassava into starch but unfortunately this capacity was lost during the civil unrest and since then Uganda has imported all its starch needs.
//Cue in: “For the local…
Cue out: ….has been used.”//
Farmers have received the news of the development with mixed reactions.
Alfred Namaasa, a resident of Busiu Sub County, is happy that the establishment of the Cassava Starch Factory in Mbale would improve on the livelihood of the Cassava farmers in the district. He is however cautious that it depends on the price that they would offer farmers for their produce.
//Cue in: “The starch factory…
Cue out: …help offering employment”//
Namaasa, who is also the district councilor for Busiu sub county, says the completion of the factory is long overdue. He wonders why 10 years after Yogi Agro Industries signed a memorandum of understanding with Mbale District Local Government; the firm has failed to open the plant.
//Cue in: “You know it…
Cue out: …really don’t know.”//
But Benard Mujjasi, the Mbale District district chairperson is happy that the establishment of the factory in the district would help reduce unemployment which he says is the biggest challenge the country is grappling with.
The major consumers of starch are in the pharmaceutical, food and non-food sectors. The non-food industries including textiles, wood processing and cardboard-making industries among others.