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Ugandan computer geek turns fruits into wine

John Segirinya is the manufacturer of Wagro fruit wine brands in Uganda, a business he has engaged in for some years with his journey in value addition inspiring many people. The software engineer-turned agro-manufacturer spoke to Mkulima Young - Uganda correspondent Jeremiah Lwebuga on what it takes to succeed in value addition agribusiness.
Describe the products you make?
We produce wines from a blend of fruits, including pineapples, oranges, lemons and passion fruits. We blend them using several processes, with the fermentation taking place for six months for some to end up with quality wine. I have a pineapple farm, and I purchase the rest of the fruits from farmers. 
You are a computer geek, what drove you into agribusiness?
I have passion for agriculture, which drove me into growing pineapples. One day I harvested the fruits and the urge to convert them into something valuable made me think of value addition. I am also fascinated with the growth and empowerment of the youth through job creation. This saw me open the winery.
Do you have any training in farming or value addition?
You cannot engage in such a business without specific training. I was first trained by a community-based organisation called MCAFs and later by Rural Women TORUWU in Kikajjo. The two organisations organise training workshops for farmers. 
How many people have you employed?
So far I have five permanent workers, and I normally employ at least seven more on need basis, that is, when customer orders increase. 
Are there challenges in the business? 
We produce a wide variety of agricultural products, but are yet to optimise the economic benefits we can derive from them. This is partly because of inadequate knowledge in value-adding technologies coupled with poor infrastructure facilities and the absence of coherent policies to support us. Second, marketing is also a bit of challenge and third we are still working hard to raise capital to boost our production. Lastly, we have been trying to secure a large facility to increase production, have a secure store as well as display of our products with little success, but we will overcome these challenges. 
Talking of marketing, how do you market your produce?
I market them using traditional and modern methods. These include social media platforms, at social gatherings and I visit hotels and restaurants to make a pitch for them. I also make T-shirts and shirts and flyers for marketing and attend exhibitions to sell them.
Online platforms like Mkulima Young also help to create awareness of what I do. It has helped my products reach a wide and diverse market consisting of people of different cultures. The best way to communicate to a bigger market is through online platforms. Through the internet, people get to know your products and your firm. 
What is your advice to the youth and fellow farmers?
To the youth, farming is something that you can comfortably do for a living. Adding value to produce makes it even better because you create a product that people consume; it gives one great satisfaction. If you have an idea, talk about it, discuss it and find means of putting into reality.

Find John contacts here

Buy the wine here 

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Being  a member enables you to sell and/or accessing contacts for buyers seeking products for FREE. Also soon you will get regional market trends and prices projection for various agricultural commodities.

... Mkulima Young Team

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Value Addition, Wine