Cost and benefits of processing fruits using the dehydration method among small and medium agribusiness farms
Kiwesi, Herman Joseph
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The study aimed to find out the cost and benefits of processing fruits using the dehydration method among small and medium agribusiness farms. The study had three specific objectives: to characterize firms involved in the processing of fruits in Kampala, to analyze the cost and benefits in processing of the fruits in Kampala, and to document challenges faced by firms that are undertaking processing of fruits. A cross-sectional research design where quantitative approach of data collection was used. The data was obtained from food processors using closed-ended questionnaires. The respondents were selected using simple random to select 50 food processors. The study revealed that majority of the fruit processors employ about 11-15 female and male workers. Most processors were processing mango and a few banana fruit. The processing capacity of mango processors was 50,000-100,000kg per year and the least (15.6%) process 10,001-20,000kg. While, the majority of banana processors have a processing capacity of 100,000kg and above and the least (28.1%) process 50,000-100,000kg. Most of the fruits are sourced from non-contracted farmers and few source it direct from open markets. Processors were supplied by over 6 farmers. Most of the fruit losses are incurred during marketing, transportation, and harvesting respectively. The types of fruit losses at various handling stages were caused by mechanical leads to more losses during harvesting and transportation respectively. The reported operating costs of 15,224,220/= include input, management and machinery servicing or maintenance costs. Cost of raw fruits which contributes about 49.5% of the total operating cost is considered as the highest among the inputs. The cost involved in operating the firm includes capital expenditure and operating cost. The financial feasibility was determined using net present value and benefit–cost ratio. The BCR is greater than one and this depicts that the fruit investment is financially viable since derived benefits exceed costs incurred. The study concluded that there is a wide range of technologies available that, if adopted, would enable smallholders and larger producers to improve the quality and quantity of food/grains during postharvest handling and storage. The researcher recommends that post-harvest losses strategy should be better integrated into agricultural programs to provide technical advice and affordable solutions to farmers.