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Sugarcane Growers Facing Financial Ruin due to Buyer Delays

Proscovia Nabukalu one of the farmers says has lost about 60 tons of sugarcane after cutting them down upon receiving the harvesting permit but the company did not send trucks to pick them ending up drying in gardens. Currently each ton of sugarcane fetches about 9, 9000 shillings, down from 160,000 shillings three years ago.
Nabukalu's sugarcane that has dried up after she waited for the truck from Scoul in vain.

Audio 4

Outgrower sugarcane farmers in Mpatta Sub County of Mukono district are facing financial ruin due to delayed buying of sugarcanes by Sugar Cooperation of Uganda limited-Scoul.

About 100 out growers who received financial support from Scoul to start growing sugarcane in 2016 but they have since then missed over three seasons without harvesting them after the buyer (Scoul) relaxed to clear them.

The desperate farmers now see only two likely destinations - prison or slavery. They say either failure to service their bank loans will end in jail for them, or they will spend the rest of their lives working for SCOUL which is also their creditor.

 

Scoul provides financial support to several out growers in form of fertilizers, seedlings and tractors for ploughing the land. According to the agreements they sign, farmers are not allowed to sell to other buyers at the time of harvest.

Before harvesting sugarcane, farmers receive harvesting permits as an indicator that the buyer is willing to buy their sugarcane. However, farmers at Mpatta claim missing three seasons of harvest which has left them languishing in total poverty on top of failing to pay back the loans from Scoul and others from the banks.

William Kato, the chairperson of Mpatta Sugarcane Out Grower’s Association says many farmers joined the business of planting sugarcane with an assurance that the miller would assist them in harvesting, transporting and buying sugarcane at every season of harvest. 

He however notes that for two seasons now, only nine farmers have been cleared to harvest but surprisingly their harvesting permits have expired without Scoul sending trucks to pick the sugarcanes leaving them out to dry in gardens after they were cut.

Proscovia Nabukalu one of the farmers says she has lost about 60 tons of sugarcane after cutting them down upon receiving the harvesting permit but the company did not send trucks to pick them ending up drying in gardens. Currently each ton of sugarcane goes for about shillings 9, 9000.

  

She notes that now her harvesting permit received on November 16 got expired on December 7, this year. She reveals employing four youths to assist her on the harvesting process who are now on her back demanding for their payments.

“I am so disappointed in growing sugarcane, workers have deserted me and the entire plantation is drying up.”

 

//Cue in: “Mpulira ennaku…

Cue out: …bibiri bikaze”// 

Another out grower Sarai Namwanje wonders whether it was a trick for Scoul to give them loans they wish to see expanding until they fail to pay it so as to take their land.

“They sent to us permits clearing to harvest, took loans and employed workers to cut sugarcane but now drying up in gardens they have declined to send trucks to pick them up.” 

//Cue in: “Bbo eri abatuwereza…

Cue out: …ziganye okujja”//

James Kirunda the Ntunda LCI Chairperson accuses Scoul extension workers for diverting the opportunities intended for the out growers to themselves.

“The vehicles sent to us as the out growers are all utilized by the extension workers since they also started planting sugarcane.” 

 

//Cue in: “Bayingirira mu system…

Cue out: …balime e bikajjo”//   

Charles Byamungu the Scoul Harvest Contractor in Charge of Mpatta sub county says he has tried his best to convince his bosses come to the farmer’s rescue but in vain.  

He notes that he is now negotiating a deal with them to compensate the farmers whose sugarcane has dried up in gardens or else they will be left without any other option but to seek justice from courts of laws. 

//cue in: “Naye ekizibu ekiriwo…

Cue out: …ebibye yabitunda”//

John Okurut the officer in charge of Mukono at Scoul appeals to farmers remain calm saying they have only been interrupted by heavy rains in the past amidst poor roads that vehicles could hardly be sent in some areas. 

           

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