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Busoga Out Growers Protest Low Sugarcane Prices

The farmers under their umbrella; Busoga Sugarcane Out Growers’ Association, argue that the cost of production in terms of fertilizers, cultivation, and transportation of cane from farms to the mills is higher than the payments farmers receive at the end of the chain.
Mayuge sugar factory parking yard empty as sugarcane farmers resort to strike over low prices.

Audio 4

Sugarcane farmers from Busoga sub-region are protesting the low sugarcane prices, provided by millers.  Their protest comes after millers reduced sugarcane prices from 128,000 Shillings to 120,000 per ton of cane, a rate which affects their profits.  

The farmers under their umbrella; Busoga Sugarcane Out Growers’ Association, argue that the cost of production in terms of fertilizers, cultivation, and transportation of cane from farms to the mills is higher than the payments farmers receive at the end of the chain. 

They say that investors reduced prices without prior notice to the farmers, many of whom just learnt about the changes upon receiving payment for the cane supplied on Monday this week. They are saying that they are not willing to sell more cane until prices are revised to suit their interests. 

Hamis Ndote, a farmer from Mayuge District says that it is unfair for millers to reduce the cost of sugarcane when sugar prices are still high. Ndote adds that farmers have approached millers for an agreement on the prices in vain. 

//Cue in; “sukali… 

Cue out…wa’nsi.”//    

Asuman Mubikile, a farmer from Kamuli district says that the Kamuli Sugar plant hiked its prices after its’ annual maintenance stoppage which lasted at least months.  

//Cue in; “webaigala… 

Cue out…tunasigazawo ki.”// 

Issa Busoga, the sugarcane farmer’s regional chairman says that cane farmers acquire loans with interest and hire land to cultivate sugarcane, adding that farmers cannot stay silent while incurring losses due to reduced cane prices.  

//Cue in; “we have informed… 

Cue out…operating in losses.”//    

Budhugo further states that Ugandan millers manufacture other products like electricity and fertilizers from sugarcane yet they little money to farmers compared to their counterparts in Kenya and Tanzania. He adds that millers should agree on the prices with farmers, other than suppressing them.  

//Cue in; “these millers are… 

Cue out…in the pocket.”//  

However, in his letter addressed to the aggrieved farmers, Jim Kabeho, the chairperson of Sugar Manufacturer’s Association, said that the sugar prices are dropping rapidly yet all millers have surplus stock of unsold sugar, prompting a reduction in sugarcane prices.   

“We have a big stock of unsold sugar in metric tons, yet the sugar prices are dropping at a very high speed. therefore, it is just fitting to cut on the prices of sugarcane and reduce the production of sugar which might end up floating on the market and dreading millers in losses,” reads the letter in part.   

Sugarcane is the main cash crop grown in Busoga sub-region with over 20,000 farmers directly supplying cane to the millers, however, farmers remain low in the business coupled with reduced prices, the worst period in their history being 2017, when sugarcane prices reduced from 174,000 Shillings per ton to 130,000 due to increased production of the crop.  

Despite the challenges in the industry, more natives are embracing it, and according to statistics presented by Busoga sugarcane out growers association in 2018, an average of 46 farmers per rural sub-county within the region including the sub-counties of Budondo, Busedde, Buyengo, Butagaya, and Buwenge located in Jinja district are directly involved in sugarcane growing.