Legislators have urged government to address the challenges faced by sugarcane out growers saying that the farmers are stuck with cane with no market.
Bugabula South MP, Hon. Maurice Kibalya said that sugarcane growers have now resorted to looking for market in Kenya where they are facing hostilities.
“Last week, the desperate sugarcane growers were arrested in Kenya by the authorities. These sugarcane growers have made a lot of alarm and cried out to the government but they have not been helped,” said Kibalya.
According to Kibalya, the traders were arrested because government refused to give them authorisation to sell their cane in Kenya.
He added that attempts by farmers in Busoga to earn a living from maize and citrus fruits have also been frustrated by unfavourable prices.
“The people from this area last year were growing maize and it was at shs200 [per kilogramme]. The government had promised to put it at shs500 but they have not seen the money. They have mortgaged their houses; they have gone for loans and they are desperate. They are sitting on a time bomb,” said Kibalya.
Kibalya raised the matter during a sitting of Parliament chaired by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, on Tuesday, 20 August 2019.
Hon. Kasiano Wadri (Ind. Arua Municipality) said there is continued reluctance in addressing challenges of sugarcane farmers in Busoga and hopes that government intervenes to improve the livelihoods of the people in the region.
“I was in Jinja over the weekend;the cry of the ordinary person was that they are stranded with their lorries of sugarcane which they desperately want to sell in Kenya. Why can’t they be allowed to sell their cane? It is a free economy,” Wadri said.
Hon. Robert Ntende (Ind. Bunya South) said the Minister of Trade is frustrating efforts by the out growers to find solutions to their challenges.
“They have made several attempts to meet the minister who has turned down their requests. They have even called her but she was very arrogant to them; she said she had no time for them and yet as the minister of trade, you should be at the forefront of solving this problem,” said Ntende.
Ibanda North legislator, Hon. Guma Gumisiriza advised government to urge manufacturers to buy from the out growers saying that, “majority of the cash crops involve out growers who require ready market”.
“There is some kind of cartel from Indians who we thought that once the economy is liberalised, people will benefit from high economies of scale but these guys are becoming a problem,” Guma Gumisiriza said.
Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind. Ndorwa East) said a motion should be moved urging government to have a plan to address challenges faced by all sectors in the country.
The Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, in response said government has engaged sugarcane manufacturers and some out growers.
She explained that manufacturers are not buying sugarcane from out growers because they are repairing factory equipment.
“Some out growers have not registered with the manufacturers. The manufacturers have a list of out growers whom they have contracts with. They said that there are some out growers who are speculators and do not want to enter contracts with them,” added Kyambadde.
She also said that she engaged the Kenya minister for Trade and the Permanent Secretary who told her that they are not ready to buy cane from Uganda.
“The reason they told me is that they also have their cane and they want to industrialize; they want to have a market for their cane,” said Kyambadde.
Kadaga directed the Minister of Trade to present a statement on the plight of the sugarcane out growers on Wednesday, 21 August 2019.
“How can all the 10 millers stop working at the same time? In Busoga, the government has killed the other industry which is fishing. So, you cannot sell fish and you cannot sell sugar; what do you want us to do,” Kadaga added.
The Speaker also granted Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba leave of the House to move a motion urging government to address challenges faced by traders across all sectors.