24 February 2024

tndNews

North's First

Teso citrus farmers want Soroti flying school upgraded to an international airport

There are an estimated 8.2 million productive citrus plants in Teso producing over 1.2 million tonnes of oranges. 
oranges citrus

Last Updated on: 4th January 2024, 01:38 pm

Soroti |A group of citrus farmers within the Ocaapa Town Council in Serere district is advocating for the elevation of Soroti Flying School to the status of an international airport.

Their primary rationale behind this push lies in the belief that such an upgrade would significantly enhance access to markets for their fruits.

Currently, their produce faces spoilage due to the limited processing capacity of the local factory and that has left some angry farmers cutting off some citrus trees.

These growers facing mounting frustration have highlighted the factory’s incapacity to handle their fruit yield compelling them to explore alternative markets.

They are particularly dissatisfied with middlemen who exploit their situation by purchasing their oranges at unfairly low prices.

Robert Ogalo is the chairperson of Orupe Fruit Growers Group. He emphasizes the potential benefits of commercializing the flying school.

He envisions it as a direct pathway to international markets enabling them to directly supply their fruits without the current processing bottlenecks.

There are an estimated 8.2 million productive citrus plants in Teso producing over 1.2 million tonnes of oranges.

The fruits are consumed locally, others are sold to the Soroti fruit factory for processing and the rest are supplied to other parts of the country and Kenya.

The East African Civil Aviation Academy (EACAA) also known as the Soroti Flying School is a Ugandan school that trains aircraft pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers.

It was founded in September 1971 under the Directorate of Civil Aviation of the EAC and the government of Uganda, the East African Community (EAC), the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Civil Aviation Organization were the major contributors.

When the first EAC collapsed in 1977, the Ugandan government took over the management and maintenance of the school and in 2012 the government began the process of returning the school to the EAC.

Julius Martine Ekomu, CEO of Soroti Fruits Limited supports the idea of upgrading the flying school.

He sees it as a means for farmer groups to transport their oranges to foreign countries, especially given the factory’s inability to handle the region’s entire fruit yield.

During a visit to Soroti on December 22, 2023, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, while addressing opposition defectors to the NRM at Capt. Mike Mukula’s residence, criticized the flawed design of the factory, highlighting its inability to accommodate the fruit output of the region.

Kasaija further assured defectors of a potential citrus market in Buliisa district and pledged to facilitate arrangements for supply.

By Robert Edwomu

 

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