By Red Pepper Online
Uganda cocoa farmers will smile all the way to the bank after value addition on the crop has been taken to another level on the crop by Stephen Sembuya a 34 year’s Ugandan entrepreneur.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to launch the Pink Foods Industries based in Kyanja a Kampala suburb.
Putting up final touches on the structure that will house the machinery and offices, Sembuya is busy taking orders from customers in Nairobi.
He grants us a ten minutes interview so that he attends to other guests and customers.
Stephen Sembuya says 4 years ago he started a journey to produce chocolate from cocoa grown by his Grand Father who introduced it in 1940s.
His family owns the biggest single owned cocoa farm in Africa sitting on more than 640 acres of land in Kyagwe region, Buikwe district in Greater Mukono.
Sembuya a Makerere Business School graduate says farming was a secondary business because his father Mr. Christopher Sembuya aka Sembule was busy in steel manufacturing and electronics.
He says on one of the trips to the abandoned farm, he wondered why traders were paying cash and demand was more. These traders were willing to pay before harvest. This caused a lot of curiosity in me because rival companies were fighting.
“After my research and messages of value addition from the government, I invested in machinery”.
Sembuya says the machines are very expensive for example one needs Euros 400,000(shs1.8 billion) for 50 kgs out put machine. I had not held more than shs100 millions by 2011.I looked for means by joining chocolate groups worldwide where I was advised to start artisan chocolate which is the best.
I started by making one kilo of chocolate a day using small machines bought at shs 50 millions in 2014. I had lost shs 430 millions in biscuit machinery due to shipping problems.
The day I produced my first kilo of chocolate was full of mix reaction because government officials including Ministers had refused to believe in me.
Soon the media was interested especially CNN, BBC, AFP, CCTV and others which opened doors for us at Pink food industries.
“We got orders across the world and other companies paid early which helped us to increase on our capacity. Today, we have invested $1.5 million our capacity is going to be 1000 kgs of Chocolate per day”.
Sembuya says they have bought more machines, more land, saved more jobs for Ugandans.
A farmer used to get shs7000 but will earn up to shs 300,000 per kilo. These opportunies will create jobs for Ugandans not other countries.