New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: 2012 Sugar Production Down

Uganda's raw sugar output fell short of the industry's forecast by 11.4 percent in 2012, hurt by cane poaching and poor weather which forced a major producer to briefly halt production, an industry official said on Monday.

Jim Kabeho, chairman of the Uganda Sugar Cane Technologists Association (USCTA), told Reuters the country produced 289,665 tonnes of raw sugar compared with a forecast 327,075 tonnes.

The east African country produced 259,413 tonnes in 2011.

"The two biggest setbacks we experienced (were) ... first we had extensive cane poaching by small producers who harvest immature cane, which results in low sugar recovery rates," Kabeho said.

"Secondly, there was drought in some ... sugar-producing areas and Kinyara had to for instance shut down for two and a half months because it couldn't get sufficient cane."

Kinyara, located in Masindi, western Uganda, is the country's second-biggest sugar producer after Kakira Sugar Works (KSW) and is majority-owned by Rai Group, a Mauritius-based agribusiness company.

Kabeho said most small producers were not members of USCTA, which means they are not obliged to adhere to industry-best practices that prohibit the cutting of young cane.

"We have asked the government to make it mandatory for all producers to belong to USCTA so that we don't get these poor practices," he said.

Uganda consumes about 350,000 tonnes of raw sugar annually and the government says it is eager to attract investment into the sector to meet demand forecast by USCTA to hit 700,000 tonnes by 2030. Reuters

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