Sugarcane farmers in Busoga are stuck with about 7.5 million tonnes of sugarcane after millers allegedly failed to consume them.
Speaking to Daily Monitor on Wednesday, the Busoga Sugarcane Out-growers Association (BSGA) spokesperson, Mr Godfrey Naitema, said the millers are only processing own sugarcane and leaving theirs to dry in the gardens.
“The canes are drying in the gardens because they are above the maturity age of 18 months. Most of them are now between 24 to 30 months and the sugar content is deteriorating,” he said. He added that farmers are incurring losses because most of them acquired loans from banks to grow the canes.
Burnt sugarcane rejected
In their June 29 letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the farmers say they have been left in a difficult situation after millers notified them that they would no longer purchase any burnt sugarcane.
They want Parliament to subsidise farmers insurance so that it is affordable to them in the process of mitigating the risk of fire.
The outgrowers association (BSGA) says farmers have incurred a loss of more than 500 acres, totalling about 20,000 tonnes (worth Shs2b) to wild fires yet they acquire most of the money from banks.
Ms Kadaga on her Twitter handle said as Parliament, they have been informed about the plight of sugarcane farmers in Busoga, who have more than 7.5 million tonnes of sugarcane that the millers will not buy. She said they will follow up the matter.
Although the farmers had started exporting sugarcane to Kenya, the association chairperson, Mr Isa Budhugo, said the three-month contract has not been renewed.
“We were barred from exporting sugarcane because Kenyan factories had abandoned the sugarcane from Kenyan farmers. Factories were transporting sugarcane from gardens in Kenya yet they were not incurring that cost on Ugandan sugarcane,” he said.
In June, last year, farmers started exporting sugarcane to Kenya following a reduction in its prices from Shs175,000 in 2017 to Shs120,000 per tonne in 2019.
The chairperson of Uganda Sugarcane Manufactures’ Association, Mr Jim Kabeho, said it true there is excess sugarcane that cannot be consumed.
“Kakira sugar works consumes 35 per cent, and 70 per cent of the sugercane comes from farmers; but it is true the supply is higher than demand,” he said.
Mr Kabeho said they need regulation, which will create close cooperation between factories and farmers.
In December, last year, government promised to establish a sugar factory in Kamuli District as part of its plans to improve the standard of living of the people in the region. The process is underway.
On April 28, the Sugar Bill was gazetted into an Act after the President assented to it, months after he first rejected it over the zoning policy.
A tonne of sugarcane costs Shs110, 000, while the factory price of a 50-kilogramme bag of sugar costs Shs134,000.
The market price of a kilogramme of sugar is Shs3,000 in some parts of the country.