Uganda: Busoga Sugarcane Farmers Send First Consignment to Atiak

13 January 2021

Busoga Diocese Bishop Paul Moses Naimanhye has flagged off 50 sugarcane trucks to Atiak Sugar Factory in northern Uganda, following farmers' frustration over the falling prices of sugarcane and lack of market in the area.

Flagging off the consignment at Nakalama-Iganga Yard on Monday, Bishop Naimanhye likened sugarcane growers to the fishermen Jesus Christ found cursing over no catch and told them to cast their nets in the deeper waters from where they got a big catch.

"We should stop lamenting over falling produce prices, cursing lack of market and desperation over poverty, but instead cast our nets deeper and strategically through innovation, and maximizing available opportunities," the bishop advised.

He added that because work was commissioned by God and man was put in-charge of the Garden of Eden and all therein, people should diversify resources, be in charge and manipulate as well as protect the environment.

Ms Eva Kwesiga, the outgoing Iganga Resident District Commissioner, urged sugarcane farmers to promote cooperatives and their core values of unity and membership to attract more funding and value addition.

Ms Amina Hersi Moghe, the managing director of Atiak Sugar Factory, commended Busoga sugarcane growers for supporting her factory and pledged a healthy partnership.

Sugarcane farmers in Busoga Sub-region, under the Greater Busoga Sugarcane Farmers' Union (GBSGU), last month signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Atiak Sugar Factory to supply cane for six months.

Under the arrangement, the government shall intervene with subsidising the transport costs and also avail fuelled trucks to ferry the cane.

The intervention follows President Museveni's pledge to set up mechanisms of addressing the challenge of the market by bailing out the farmers and also open the outside market for Ugandan sugar.

Mr Godfrey Biriwali, the GBSGU chairperson, in an earlier interview, said Atiak Sugar Factory has immature cane and lacks suppliers yet it needed 15,000 tonnes of cane per day, but only crushes close to 400 tonnes per day. "I was stranded, having opened up the factory, but with still immature sugarcane and was opting to import sugar when Speaker Kadaga, in a chat, pointed to a partnership opportunity.

However, I will buy sugarcane from only union members," Ms Amina warned.

In their speech delivered by Mr Biriwali, GUBSGU members appreciated the government's efforts in fulfilling the value addition intervention pledge.

They also applauded the President for signing the Sugar Act (2020), calling for its operationalisation by prioritising a Sugar Board to regulate the sugar industry.

The development is a relief to the farmers who have endured an unfavourable market after the millers lowered the rate to Shs75,000 from Shs197,000 per ton.

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