Connect with us

farm news

Behind the sugar zoning politics

Published

on

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Ugandan sugar millers, cane farmers and the government have for sometime been at loggerheads over a proposal to introduce zoning in the sugar cane growing areas.

The proposed Sugar Bill, 2016, seeks to limit establishment of new sugar processing firms in the already existing ones within a radius of 25 kilometres.

It also seeks to force sugar cane farmers or out growers to supply their cane to the sugar processing firm within their zone.

This move is in response to complaints from large sugar producers – Kakira, Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) and Kinyara – companies which claim that small sugar producers are involved in buying cane from farmers that they have financed and developed.

The situation has become so tense that on April.30, the ruling National Resistance Movement Caucus chaired by President Yoweri Museveni decided to shelve the controversial Bill as negotiations continue.

Parliament had in November, last year, passed the proposed law but President Museveni refused to assent to it. He, instead, returned it to Parliament arguing that certain clauses, specifically on sugarcane zoning had been omitted in the proposed law.

“The way you (Parliamentarians) are behaving, you are antagonizing our old sugar people and I don’t know the relationship you have with small sugar people. Some of you have got a suspicious relationship with the small sugar people and now you are sabotaging my plan,” President Museveni is quoted as saying during the National Resistance Movement retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi in March this year.

Museveni said he had plans to encourage big sugar producers to venture into production of refined sugar to be used in the manufacturing of medicines.

But research by The Independent in sugar producing countries in Africa, Asia and South America shows that sugar cane zoning has either failed, been met with strong resistance from farmers or threatened the existence of the entire sugar industry, in spite of its importance to a number of industries such as medicine, foods and confectioneries, among others.

Faced with such a situation, experts familiar with the industry said the government should not rush to protect the interests of large sugar producers at the expense of sugar cane farmers and the smaller millers.

“To introduce such an arrangement in the sugar industry, all stakeholders have to be involved,” Stephen Biraahwa Mukitale, MP for Buliisa and a former procurement administrator at Kinyara Sugar Works, told The Independent in an interview.

“Farmers need to be allowed to own shares in the mills so that their interests are also catered for. Sugar cane farmers also need to have a sense of ownership of the sugar producers for them to succeed.”

Fred Muhumuza, an economist based at Makerere University said the government should come up with a regulator that will deal with farmers’ contracts they have signed with sugar processing firms instead of coming up with the sugarcane zoning initiative. Muhumuza said this move could end up enslaving and rendering sugar cane farmers poor.

But supporters of the new move led by large sugar processing firms under their umbrella, the Uganda Sugar Manufactures Association (USMA), claim that the regulation and zoning will allow the growth of a fruitful partnership and collaboration between millers and farmers.

Jimmy Kabeho, the chairperson of USMA wrote in the Daily Monitor on May. 16 saying sugar production in Kenya has dropped over the years due to lack of regulation and that a similar situation shouldn’t happen in Uganda.

Why should we reduce the production of one factory by licensing a new factory in the same area? Since 2015, Uganda sugar production has gone down despite having more factories on board. It is, therefore, not the number of factories, but how these factories operate and are managed,” Kabeho said.

“We have also seen cane yields go down (20 tonnes per hectare) in the fields while sugar recoveries have dropped from 10 per cent to 6 per cent. This is a lot of sugar lost in production and loss in corresponding revenues, including government tax.”

Kabeho said cane prices and sugar prices depend mainly on regional and world sugar markets and that in Uganda prices have been high for consecutive seasons.

Uganda’s sugar industry that started way back in the 1920’s, now boasts of nearly 20 licensed companies majority of which are located in the south-eastern Busoga region.

However, though the annual sugar production had increased from 140,000 in the 1960s to 240,000 tonnes in 2008 and 400.5 tonnes in 2014, it dropped to 365 metric tonnes in 2017, according to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

The local consumption of raw sugar stands at around 350,000 tonnes per annum, according to USMA, with the rest exported to neighbouring states.

But critics say sugar producers need to invest in early maturing high yielding canes as well as technologies to increase cane and sugar production rather than blame their woes on the absence of sugar zoning for their woes.

Original Source: The Independent 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

farm news

Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

Published

on

Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

Continue Reading

farm news

Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

Published

on

About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

Continue Reading

farm news

Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

Published

on

Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter





No spam mail' ever' its a promise

Trending