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MPs blast Gov’t over plight of sugarcane growers

By Nicholas Wassajja

Added 23rd August 2019 05:12 PM

Kibalya claimed that attempts by farmers to earn a living through growing maize and citrus fruits have also been frustrated by unfavourable prices.

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Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba

Kibalya claimed that attempts by farmers to earn a living through growing maize and citrus fruits have also been frustrated by unfavourable prices.

AGRICULTURE    MARKET

KAMPALA - Parliament has tasked Government to table before it a comprehensive report on how it best plans to address challenges faced by sugarcane out-growers that are stuck with the cane on both local and trans-border markets.

The MPs said following a dip of the cane price in Uganda, local farmers especially from Busoga region, resorted to looking for markets where to sell in neighbouring Kenya but this has also not saved the situation as sugarcane traders are facing hostility.

The matter forcing Government to table the report within a weeks’ time came to the fore Tuesday afternoon when Maurice Kibalya (Bugabula South) revealed: “Last week, the desperate sugarcane growers were arrested in Kenya by the authorities.

These farmers have made a lot of alarm and cried out to the government but they have not been helped. We need to know what Government has in plan for them otherwise our people will die of hunger,” Kibalya said.

According to Kibalya, the traders were arrested because the government refused to give them the authorization to sell their cane in Kenya but this left a sour taste among lawmakers who wondered whether a farmer needs authority from Government to transact business anywhere in East Africa.

Kibalya claimed that attempts by farmers to earn a living through growing maize and citrus fruits have also been frustrated by unfavourable prices.

“The people from this area last year were growing maize and it was at a mere sh200 per kilogram. The government promised to put it at sh500 but the farmers have not seen the money to date.

People are mortgaging their houses, go for loans and they are desperate. If someone doesn’t save the situation, we are going to see a spike in suicide cases,” said Kibalya.

In response, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, said the government has engaged sugar manufacturers and some out-growers on the way forward.

“Manufacturers are not buying sugarcane from out-growers because they are repairing factory equipment yet some out growers have not registered with these companies.  The manufacturers have a list of out-growers whom they have contracts with so those being talked about might not be on the list while others are speculators and do not want to enter contracts with them,” explained  Kyambadde.

She said they have engaged the Kenyan Government but they didn’t express willingness to buy cane from Uganda.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga noted that “How can all the 10 millers stop working at the same time? In Busoga, the government has killed fishing. So, you cannot sell fish and you cannot sell sugar; what do you want us to do.”

Arua Municipality MP, Kasiano Wadri warned that the continued reluctance in addressing challenges that farmers and traders face implies, “there is a deliberate move by Government to impoverish Ugandans.”

The Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba sought permission to table a motion urging Government to have a grand plan to fix the gaps faced by several sectors including sugarcane growing in the country.

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