Farmers under Masindi Sugarcane Growers Association Limited (MASGAL) are crying foul after the proprietors of Kinyara Sugar Factory started growing and harvesting their own sugarcane to feed their factory.
The chairman MASGAL, Cosmas Byaruhanga, told Kazi-njema News that since the company started growing their own sugarcane, it has abandoned the out-growers’ sugarcane.
Mr Byaruhanga who is also the Masindi District LC 5 Chairman enumerated such losses as the company taking long to harvest the farmers’ sugarcane, dumping their sugarcane on the way during transportation from fields to the factory, refusal to harvest burnt sugarcane and low price as being incurred by the farmers.
The chairman said since Kinyara Sugar Factory has sufficient sugarcane for their factory, they are hardly minding about the out-growers’ plight besides the company fixing the price of sugarcane for farmers.
“Right now Kinyara [Sugar Factory] has been overwhelmed by sugarcane because they also resorted to growing their own. The company fixed their own price which isn’t favouring farmers, sugarcane is dumped on the way during transportation, the company takes long to harvest farmers’ burnt sugarcane mostly during dry season and out-growers’ sugarcane is abandoned,” Mr Byaruhanga narrated.
A tonne of sugarcane goes at Shs90,000 against the farmers’ preference of Shs170,000.
The current inclination has coerced the chairman to urge sugarcane out-growers in the district to form cooperative societies-a prerequisite that will drive them to hatch plans of establishing their own sugar factory in order to address and solve their problem.
Realising that out-growers are now languishing with their sugarcane, the Budongo Sub-county Chairman, Kenneth Kiiza Nyendwoha, urges the government to institute a sugarcane price legislation to save farmers from incurring losses.
He is concerned that without the higher authorities’ intervention, sugarcane farmers in Masindi district will continue suffering since most of them depend on sugarcane growing as their main economic activity.
The politician reveals that currently, the farmers are beleaguered by loans, unable to pay tuition fees for their children and also unable to fend for their families with basic needs.
“We were happy when Kinyara [Sugar Factory] made an expansion thinking that our sugarcane would have market. But since expansion was done, the price of sugarcane has reduced and workers have been laid off without notification,” said Mr Nyendwoha.
The Masindi Resident District Commissioner, Rose Kirabira, is concerned about the prevailing circumstance; calling upon the out-growers and Kinyara Sugar Factory to synchronise and solve the matter.
She says that the management of Kinyara Sugar Factory should come on board to get to the bottom of the disagreement between the out-growers and the company concluding that both parties need each other.
“Perhaps there was inadequate sugarcane supply for the factory and that’s why Kinyara [Sugar Factory] started growing their own. But there is need for harmonisation before setting up another factory because establishing it up may take a long time and requires a long process,” observed Ms Kirabira.
Attempts to get a comment from the Kinyara Sugar Factory Communications Manager, Richard Wanok, were fruitless as our repeated calls went unanswered.