By Ismail Bategeka

MASINDI: Sugarcane farmers in Uganda have united and formed a national body to push for government consideration to curb the challenges faced by the cane growers in the country.

The resolution was made over the weekend where leaders of different sugar cane farmers’ groups from Bunyoro, Busoga, Buganda and Northern Uganda had a meeting at Kolping Hotel in Masindi town.

The farmers agreed and resolved to form the group Uganda Sugarcane Growers Association {USGA} which comprises the leaders of sugarcane farmers from Mayuge sugar factory,Kakira sugar factory, Kinyara sugar factory, Kiryandongo sugar factory, Hoima sugar factory, Kikuube sugar and all cane farmer representatives.

Mr Kazimbiraine Muhammad the chairperson Bunyoro sugarcane growers association explained that they have formed the national body to push for their rights as cane farmers adding they need to escape from the current exploitation by the so called investors.

He also asserted that the delay to pay farmers, costs for cutting the cane and also delay to harvest the canes has greatly affected them as farmers.

”We must be clear on what we want because the millers we have in Uganda are good at exploiting us,and they are ready to keep us divided,” said Kazimbiraine.

USGA will be co-ordinated by Robert Atugonza the current chairperson of Masindi Sugarcane Outgrowers Association.

According to Atugonza, USGA was formed to fight exploitation in the sugar industry by the millers adding this can be done through lobbying and advocating.

Christopher Mombwe the chairperson Kakira Busoga out-growers said all cane unions and associations will subscribe to USGA since it will bring all farmers together for advocacy.

Dr. Michael Mugabira the chairperson sugarcane farmers in greater Busoga told ugreports that the USGA will be of great help to advocate for the increased fee on cane tonnage and reduce the rampant breach of contract by millers through delayed cutting of cane.

Members on the USGA include Mr Patrick Mudingu the chairperson Mayuge sugarcane farmers represents Busoga sub region, Francis Ojwi Kitara the chairperson Ayuu Alar sugarcane out growers cooperative represents Northern region on the committee, Mr Byarugba Benjamin the Masindi sugarcane out growers secretary represents the Bunyoro on the committee and Mr Paddy Mubiru who will be representing Buganda region while Mr Robert Atugonza the chairperson will be coordinating them.

Sugarcane Farmers have decried low prices, accusing cane milling companies of failing to accord them the current market price hence many cane farmers have been demoralized.

Mr Isingoma Max the chairperson Hoima sugarcane out growers association says Hoima sugar factory delays up to beyond six months to pay a farmer after delivery of cane at the factory.

According to Mr Isingoma, farmers keep grappling with loan repayment, which has resulted in other farmers losing their properties to the banks.

He also accused the Hoima sugar factory of refusing to buy burnt canes, stressing that many farmers have lost their properties to banks and money lenders.

”Worst of all farmers under the Hoima Sugar Factory are demanding over five billion of the already supplied cane,” he said.

Isingoma said that they have tried to engage the company but all in vain stressing that they make verbal promises which are not fulfilled.

He hopes that after forming the association, it will help to push for advocacy on the challenges they are encountering as cane farmers.

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