By Benzamin Matata and Mariam Namakula
The system meant to preserve over 4 tonnes of perishable horticultural products for a period of at least three weeks which was funded by USAID through International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED) based in Kenya, cost $16,000 (about Shs60m)
Coolbot cold room system targets small scale farmer groups and vegetable vendors with 70% women and 30% men across West Nile Region however, first installed at Omia Foods in Arua city with plans of installing it in other West Nile districts.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Associate Prof. Simon Katrini Anguma, the Vice chancellor of Muni University revealed how the project made alot of business sense especially that farmers utilized buying and filling the cool bot to its capacity.
The vice chancellor alluded to the fact that many west Nilers were loosing our on alot of money to trucks that were bringing in perishables especially vegetables and were not used for any production.
” As long as we are just spending our money, we will not grow. Being known as a highly consumption place, we need to start selling something that retains money in West Nile then our lives will start to change,”he said.
West Nile is known for it’s power interruption issues and currently the region is not connected to the National grid and highly dependent on any other grid something that has always come with a high expense
Prof. Robert Kajobe, the research professor at Muni University also present emphasized the need to effectively develop such projects paying more attention to off grid and solar powered systems in order to cut power expense and interruptions.
On the side of farmers Razaki Omia, the Chief Executive Officer of Omia Agribusiness Group Limited noted that the system is to help farmers in the Region to produce horticultural foods on large scale other than importing vegetable goods from other regions.
This according to Dr. Penninah Yumbya, the East African Regional Hub Manager for ICED was to also improve on nutritional well being of the masses as the region is among those spotted on malnutrition cases.
“Research has recommended that whenever serving food half of it must be either fruit or vegetables for nutritional benefits. And so to be able to push that we need to support our farmers and local institutions so that we can have horticultural produce fruits and vegetables being produced and consumed for improved nutrients,”Dr Yumbya emphasized.