Members of parliament have given the Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, two weeks within which to chart a way forward to curb losses incurred by sugarcane growers in Busoga sub region.
“The Minister has requested that she be given time to come back with a comprehensive statement. Let the Minister come back in two weeks with the statement involving all issues which shall be debated by the House,” said the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah.
A statement on the matter presented by Kyambadde during the plenary sitting on Thursday, 27 July 2019, attributed the excess sugarcane by outgrowers to factory maintenance works at Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) and Kakira Sugar Limited, which stalled on their ability to take in sugarcane for processing.
“We experienced some incidences of machinery breakdowns in nearby sugar mills at a time when two large mills were on annual maintenance,” said Kyambadde, adding that “This annual maintenance created a gap in consumption of sugarcane.”
Kyambadde told MPs that it would not be feasible to export the excess sugarcane to neighbouring countries, noting that it would escalate the lack of raw material for sugar mills in the country, owing to the fact that sugar production had been dropping from 2014 to 2018 due to low sugarcane supply.
“The President directed that the export of raw and unprocessed materials like sugarcane should be avoided. We should promote value addition so as to fetch more prices and increase employment,” Kyambadde added.
The Minister also told the House that there was a possibility that sugar mills had slowed in consuming and processing sugarcane because of excess sugar stock in their stores for which they had failed to export and sell through the East African Community market.
During plenary sitting on Tuesday, 25 June 2019, Hon. Henry Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula South County) raised concern that sugarcane growers in the Busoga sub-region were stuck with cane that could not be supplied anywhere, adding that the cane was going bad.
“The excess cane that is there is drying on the vehicles and losing value. It takes a week before the cane is offloaded, which puts the growers in a predicament,” said Kibalya.
Kyambadde made assurances that the present status of excess sugarcane was temporary and would soon normalise, adding that going forward, the Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives would ensure that maintenance of sugar mills would not be done at the same time