GULU CITY: Gulu University plans to process wine from about nine tons of mango pulp that has remained unsold. The university got 12 tons of mango pulp in July last year after processing about 33 tons of fresh mangoes through a mobile pulp extraction machine hired from Makerere University School of Food and Technology.
The pilot project, in which the university partnered with Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), was aimed at mitigating post-harvest loss in fresh mangoes by producing mango juice. However, since July last year, more than nine tons of mango pulp have remained unsold. The pulp is currently stored in the agribusiness lab at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.
Dr. Christopher Muggaga, a lecturer in the Department of Food Science and Post-Harvest Technology at Gulu University, says the COVID-19 pandemic affected the marketing of the mango pulp due to the lockdown restrictions. He says that the university struggled to sell the mango pulp since they couldn’t turn it into juice due to the lack of a processing machine.
Dr. Muggaga notes that although they have the vision to reconstitute the mango pulp into juice for easy consumption, the lack of machines has left them with no option but to process it into wine. He says that samples of wine have already been made from the mango pulp, but they lack better winery machines.
The University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. George Openjuru Ladaah, told URN in an interview that the university intends to scale up wine production from the available mango pulp. Prof. Openjuru says the “Muyeme Juice” pilot project was a success, adding that they realized many products can be processed from mangoes that are in abundant supply in the region.
“The mango supply is enough and the pulp can actually be extracted enough to supply a large quantity from one season to the next to run a factory. The potential is great, “he said. He notes that they now intend to lobby for money to purchase their own stationary machines for pulp extraction, juice making, and wine processing.
The University’s Assistant Public Relations Officer, James Onono Ojok, says that a budget of Shillings 25 billion has been submitted to the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation to fund scientific innovations at the institution.
He says once the budget is approved and funds remitted, part of it will be used to purchase machines for mango pulp extraction, juice and wine processing, and transport means for picking mangoes from farmers within the region.
Onono notes that the university intends to establish a fully-fledged juice processing plant in the region owing to the ready supply of mangoes.