By Kenneth Barungi
Kakira Sugar Limited ( KSL) view of the Sugar Bill in the form it has been passed
We appreciate it that Parliament has finally had an opportunity to debate the Bill. However, the current way the bill has been passed in Parliament does not in any way address the future survival of the Sugar industry.
MPs need to be aware of what has transpired in neighboring countries where zoning was halted and the Sugar industry has collapsed. Now those countries have to import vast quantities of sugar from overseas reducing employment and depleting foreign exchange reserves.
The key issue of zoning millers must be re-considered because too much is at stake for this country. MPs have a fiduciary duty to their constituents and this country, to make effective laws based on research, science and basic economic facts – not emotions. We shall continue to demand for a law that that guarantees employment, production, exports, taxes, farmer prosperity, investment and CSR – and all these come from a good law.
There has to be planned assistance to the farmers by way of extension services from the sugar factories. This cannot be done if there is no zoning policy as is the case in Busoga, where extension services to farmers has stopped completely.
Currently there are no agreements to farmers with any of the millers in Busoga and this in the long term results in insecurity for the farmers for their sugar cane.
KSL view of the Sugar Board composition of equal numbers with the farmers
The composition of the Board should originate from the functions of that Board. For example all functions of the Board highlighted in the bill have previously been executed by both millers (70%) and Government (30% or less). Millers import varieties, undertake research, export/import sugar, aid farmers with inputs and so on. Whereas Government issues permits, regulates quality and other standards, etc. The role of farmers on the Board is minimal – but it is good for them to be represented of course. MP’s could have analysed Board functions and used this approach to determine the composition.
Perception KSL fears competition so as to continue underpaying farmers
Kakira Sugar Limited is not against having other sugar factories that are well located within their zones. We fear for the imminent collapse of the Uganda sugar industry. Brazil, India, Mauritius and others implemented mill zones and they are successful net exporters of sugar. Tanzania is building 5 new factories and the closet factory to the next one is 86km. They are doing it right and the Ugandan legislators should base their decisions on such facts. We must have fear if leaders cannot learn from good and bad examples in neighbouring countries. USMA members cooperate on research and development. That is sustainable development, not competition.
The writer is the spokesperson of Kakira Sugar Limited ( KSL)