The Member of Parliament (MP) for Jinja City West Timothy Batuwa Lusala has said that the amendments in the Sugar (Amendment) Bill 2023 should be re-examined by the parliamentary sectoral committee to establish a formula that considers multiple products of sugarcane and the farmer’s cost of production, so as to pay the farmer above the break-even.
‘’The current law cannot be operationalized because of two defects that need to be cured. The formula that pays the farmer money in weight is the other defect that needed a cure. The formula was hurriedly stated without testing it or benchmarking’’, says Batuwa adding that the proposed formula doesn’t take care of the cost of production.
He adds that whereas a farmer needs to invest Shs 195,000 to get 1 ton of Sugarcane; the proposed formula projects a buying price of Shs 146,790 which condemns the sugarcane farmer to a loss of Shs 48,210 per ton.
‘’Kakira Sugar works Ltd alone, optimally crashes 6,000 tons of sugarcane per day; the loss explained translates into Shs 289,260,000 per day per mill. UBOS ranks Busoga the third poorest sub region in Uganda.Here is the law to enforce the poverty’’, adds Batuwa.
The debate on the Sugar (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was this week deferred after the House failed to agree on the funding of the proposed Sugar Council, which if the bill is passed, will be the regulator of the sector.
The Sugar Act, 2020 created the Sugar Board as a regulatory organ but due to government’s rationalization policy that halted the creation of such bodies, the board has never been established. Government is now proposing the council which will be funded by a sugar levy charged on millers.
The proposal for funding of the council sparked a heated debated with several Members of Parliament advocating for reinstatement of the Sugar Board.
“You cannot say we do not want a board because government does not have money for it. That is like saying, ‘it is not important’, yet sugar is a very important industry in the country. There was a time when we had a crisis in the whole country because of sugar prices,” said Hon. Aisha Kabanda (NUP, Butambala District Woman Representative).
Leaders say it is proper for government to regulate the sugar industry as opposed to the council which she said will place farmers at the mercy of the millers.“Sugarcane growers have struggled to be where they are; it is proper for government to come up and fund the board. When it comes to the council, it is going to be funded by the millers, meaning the farmers will be under the mercy of the millers’’.