Kampala, Uganda — Police in Amuru are hunting for suspected arsonists who set ablaze over 50 acres of growing sugar cane belonging to Atiak out growers in Amuru district.
The incident happened on Saturday evening at Muroli village, Pacilo West Parish in Atiak Sub-County.
Preliminary findings by police indicate that the fire outbreak on the plantation located along Ayugi River at the boundary of Amuru and Adjumani districts was intentionally set.
Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson asserted that the value of the destroyed canes could not easily be established following the inferno that started from the Western side of Ayugi bridge.
According to Wilfred Odiya Baguma, the Atiak Sub-County LC 3 Chairperson, information gathered from locals in the area pin a section of unruly South Sudanese refugees from Adjumani district for the alleged wicked act.
Odiya told Uganda Radio Network that South Sudanese refugees at the different settlement camps in Adjumani district occasionally encroach into the sugar cane plantations to harvest it for food as a result of hunger.
Atiak Sugar Out Growers is one of the two associations including Gem Pacilo Out Growers working with Atiak Sugar Project, a subsidiary firm owned by Horyal Investments Holding Company Limited founded in 2016 and occupying over 16,000 acres of land in the area.
Government, through Uganda Development Corporation owns 40 percent stake in the Atiak Sugar Project and has since advanced more than 75 billion shillings to boost the activities of the factory working with over 4000 out growers from Gulu, Amuru, Lamwo and Adumani districts.
In December 2018, unidentified arsonists also torched over 600 acres of mature sugarcane belonging to Atiak Sugar Factory.