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Delayed Implementation of Sugar Act Bothers Manufacturers

The Sugar Act seeks to provide for the development, regulation and promotion of the sugar industry and equally address pricing of sugarcane through a specific formula. It also established a sugar board a corporate body with a mandate to regulate the Sugar industry and ensure access to resources.
Jim Kabeho, the chairperson of Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Asociation-USMA.

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The Uganda Sugar Manufacturers’ Association is displeased over delays in implementation of the recently enacted sugar act. The act was signed by the President in April, after four years of push and pull between the executive and the legislature. 

The Sugar Act seeks to provide for the development, regulation and promotion of the sugar industry and equally address pricing of sugarcane through a specific formula. It also established a sugar board a corporate body with a mandate to regulate the Sugar industry and ensure access to resources. 

In the Bill, the government had proposed zoning of 25 kilometres between mills with no more than one mill in a particular zone. This also meant that each mill would only collect cane from out-growers in its jurisdiction. Major players in the industry had also argued that exclusion zones were necessary to prevent poaching of cane from out-growers by rival factories.

However, the legislators overwhelmingly voted against zoning saying it allows one manufacturer to monopolize sugarcane production in an area.

Jim Kabeho, the chairperson of Uganda Sugar Manufacturers’ Association told Uganda Radio Network -URN that, much as the industry giants were against the approval of the bill in its’ current form, the agriculture ministry should quickly install the sugar board which will ensure quality and market for both the farmers and manufacturers alike.  

Kabeho says that the delayed implementation of the sugar bill threatens the smooth operations of the sugar industry. He adds that due to the lack of standby teams to enforce regulations in the new sugar law, a big number of unregistered farmers have engaged in the trade, forcing millers to crash excess cane beyond their normal operating capacities. 

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He says that in order to ensure the smooth operation of the industry, the government should register all cane farmers in consideration of the millers’ cane crushing capacities which will guide farmers to engage in other forms of agriculture.    

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Kabeho adds that the government should consider incorporating the element of zoning in the new law, as it helps millers to track the amount of cane planted by registered farmers and in the long-run limit cases of unconsumed cane within their respective areas of operation. 

He says that all millers have a system of controlling excess cane by registering their farmers and offering monetary aid which is paid back in terms of cane harvests. This means that millers cannot purchase surplus cane from unregistered farmers.    

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Meanwhile Issa Budhugo, the chairperson of sugarcane farmers in Busoga sub-region says that during the sugarcane crisis of 2015, farmers were encouraged to plant more cane even without registration which attracted more of them to the trade.   Budhugo argues that millers should suspend crashing of cane from their own plantations for a period of 90 days which he says will reduce on the excess cane.

It is estimated that the four main sugar manufacturers in Busoga sub-region which comprise of Kakira Sugar Works Limited, Kaliro Sugar Limited, Kamuli Sugar Limited and Mayuge Sugar Limited crash about 3 million tonnes annually and living farmers with an excess of unharvested sugarcane amounting to about 7 million tonnes.  

Mature sugarcane is usually harvested at 24 months, however, most of the farmers are stuck with excess cane for about 36-40 months.          

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