1. Uganda: Woman farmer supports her family – and community – by processing fruit (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Kampala, Uganda)

| March 8, 2010

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Violet Malunda’s small farm is bursting with colourful fruits. Pineapples, oranges, mangoes, avocados, and grapes sprout from every corner. There are seedlings growing in small boxes and plants growing up to the very boundaries of her farm.

Ms. Malunda operates a thriving fruit processing plant. In order to produce enough fruit, every bit of space must be utilized.

Ms. Malunda began growing fruits in the Mityana district of Uganda in 1977. The project started small, but has become a major livelihood – not only for her family but for her neighbours, too.

Her family of six provides the bulk of the labour. Their family home is the headquarters of Kiyinda Agro Food Enterprises. It’s fruit processing factory that makes wine, juice, jam, and sauce.

Ms. Malunda explains that she produces different products on different days. Some days wine, some days juice. Some days sauces with chili, other days sauces without.

The products are packaged in bottles or plastic bags. Glass bottles are very expensive and importing them is a big challenge. So Ms. Malunda has come up with an alternative to buying new bottles. Her family collects used bottles. They are washed, sterilized, and used for packaging.

She also has to import sealing materials. It’s a large expense, but one she can’t avoid.

In order to maintain her loyal clients, Ms. Malunda must keep supply steady and standards constant. To ensure she has enough fruit to process, she enlists the help of neighbouring farmers. She has a tree nursery on her farm and sells seedlings to her neighbours. The neighbours plant the seedlings and sell fruit back to Ms. Malunda.

Ms. Malunda is proud that her small factory has enabled her children to attend good schools. She also believes that it has saved her family from disease. Her children are healthy because they know the value of fruits, she declares.

Her neighbours, too, have relied on her business as a source of income. As a result, many have been able to educate their children and improve their health.

Ms. Malunda is now training other farmers to do the same kind of fruit processing. Her dream is to see her community become one of the most successful in Uganda. She adds: “Ugandans should know that our fruits are fresh and organic. So they should love them and use the good climate to grow them in plenty and fight poverty.”