Uganda: Museveni Pledges to Bail Out Busoga Sugarcane Farmers

4 December 2020

President Museveni has promised to bail out sugarcane farmers in Busoga sub-region.

While addressing NRM party leaders from Busoga Sub-region at Iganga Municipal Council Primary School yesterday, the NRM presidential flag bearer, told leaders from Iganga, Kaliro, Namutumba, Bugiri, Bugweri, and Namayingo that the government will sort out the sugarcane issue. "..you have issues of hiring land but we shall see how we sort it out," Mr Museveni said.

He was responding to a request by Busoga Sub-region leader's memorandum presented by State minister for Lands Persis Namuganza that requested government to bail out the sugarcane farmers who are being affected by the poor price.

According to a memo, many farmers have leased out their land to middle men. "People are about to lose their land for failure to pay back the loans. We request Mr President to rescue them," the memo read in part.

Besides requesting Mr Museveni to construct for farmers a sugarcane factory, the leaders expressed concern over the increasing eviction of people from wetlands in the region. Mr Museveni said the production of sugar in Uganda is high.

"Our production of sugar is at 540,000 tonnes but we consume only 380,000. We have a surplus of about 160,000 tonnes," Mr Museveni said. He added that our sugar would have the best market in East Africa but reiterated that the production cost is high compare to other countries.

"Our production costs is $523 (Shs 1.9m) per metric ton while in Brazil, it is $400 (Shs1.4) per metric tonnes," the head of state said.

Earlier, Mr Museveni told the leaders that Uganda had not lost many people to Covid-19 like other countries but indicated that the people are reckless and don't observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

"When I was coming here, I saw many people in the trading centres congested without facemasks. Let us observe the SOPs to stop the spread of coronavirus. That is why I don't stop on the way to address people," he said.

He said scientific campaigns are better than the previous campaign mode. "Here I get a chance to meet the leaders and we share ideas..," he said.

Ms Agnes Taaka, the NRM party flag bearer for Bugiri Woman MP, said there is no market for sugarcane in Busoga sub-region.

"The price of sugarcane dropped. How government is going to help our farmers to sell their sugarcane is a tough hurdle," Ms Taaka said.

The NRM flag bearer for Iganga District woman Member of Parliament, Ms Sauda Kauma, said Mr Museveni should put up a sugarcane factory in the area to help farmers.

Mr Milton Muwuma, the former MP of Kigulu South, said: "People hired land to grow sugarcane but they are getting nothing. For the last three years, farmers are not selling the product. Getting permits is another challenges to the farmers."

He asked Mr Museveni to get a special fund inorder to bail out the farmers.

"We need to bail out the farmers who got loans from banks because their properties are at risk," he said.

Mr Milton Muwuma said the price of sugarcane dropped from Shs160,000 to Shs80,000.

Mr Abdulrahim Ali Toto, the NRM flag bearer for Iganga Municipality MP, wants Mr Museveni to fulfil the pledge of constructing an industrial park in the area.

President Museveni also commissioned Uganda's largest passenger vessel in Namayingo District.

The 300-seater MV Sigulu, which will connect Namayingo mainland to Sigulu and Dolwe islands in Lake Victoria will help islanders access social services, transport produce, boost fishing and reduce water transport mortality occasioned by rickety vessels/boats.

The vessel had since December 2018 docked at Walukuba-Masese Division in Jinja City, prompting questions.

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