Uganda Potato Processor Eyes Domestic and Export Markets
Uganda’s first value-added potato processing factory, built at a cost of US $10 million, is targeting the regional upscale restaurant trade and the Arab market with a range of french fries and specialty items.
Situated about 510 kilometers southwest of Kampala in Kisoro, near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the newly commissioned facility was recently visited by President Yoweri Museveni as well as Patricia Nsiime of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
There will be no shortage of raw material to process. Tubers are supplied by a cooperative union of more than 4,500 farmers in the Kigezi sub-region, which is one of the country’s largest sources of Irish potatoes. Agriculture accounts for approximately 80% of the developing nation’s jobs and almost one-fourth of its economy.
The entrepreneurial businessman behind the Kisoro Potato Processing Industries Ltd. operation, Tom Mugenga, secured startup capital from the Netherlands’ Private Sector Investment (PSI) program. It was enough to pay for construction costs.
“But this wasn’t enough,” pointed out Dr. John Bahana, the project’s technical advisor. “Tom contacted the Uganda Development Bank for a loan to purchase machinery, which was obtained from Israel. It wasn’t without challenges, but finally all is installed and ready to roll.”
Meanwhile, Uganda’s National Agriculture Research Organization aims to make more than 20 different varieties of potatoes available to farmers seeking to diversify their crops.