Sugarcane growers table new demands to Hoima Sugar Limited, want justice

Hoima Sugar factory at Kiswaza Village in Kiziramfumbi Sub-county, Kikuube District.

Leaders of out-growers of Hoima Sugar Limited have tabled new demands and emphasised on fulfillment of the old ones to fight injustices that lead farmers into losses.

The key issues remain delayed payment after harvesting sugarcane, rejection of accidentally burnt sugarcane and alleged bribery among company workers especially the supervisors.

Mr Maxwell Isingoma aka Max Omuto, the Chairman Out-Growers Association for Hoima Sugar Limited tells Kazi-njema News that those issues were extensively discussed in their latest meeting with the investor’s representatives at Home Site in Kiswaza on Monday this week.

He adds that the out-growers stressed that the company should pay farmers in less than one and a half months as agreed in the previous meeting which would have started at the beginning of April this year.

“That was to start in April this year replacing delays of four to five months which has not happened yet. In our latest meeting, we have asked them [investor] to allocate some top up for every delayed months of payment for farmers as compensation”, says Mr Isingoma.

They also tasked the investor to relax the conditions set to the growers whose sugarcane is burnt by accidental fires in farms and consider the financial capacity of an ordinary sugarcane grower.

“Initially, they would harvest the burnt [sugar] cane burnt. Later, they stopped and asked a farmer to make sure that he cuts and delivers the [sugar] cane to the factory within three days or else he loses it. But we have asked them to extend to five days and also take charge of cutting and transportation because our farmers cannot manage such an emergency,” adds Mr Isingoma.

According to him, the growers are also opposed to the new method of using drones to spray the sugarcane to allow it to drop the leaves and be harvested faster and easily instead of waiting for the natural process.

“Growers are complaining that the method does not allow proper fresh growth of the cut [sugar] cane since the chemicals penetrate the soil to the roots. On top of that it affects the weight of the [sugar] cane since it withers faster in the process of harvesting and transportation”, he says.

On bribery ahead of sugarcane harvesting and allocation of equipment and loans, Mr Isingoma says the investor blamed it on farmers who panic to seek favours yet the process is clear that if it is time for harvesting, a given farmer, the workforce and vehicles must be allocated to him.

He continues that the Hoima Sugar representatives led by the Managing Director, Mr Rajasekaran Ramadoss, pledged to discuss the grievances presented by the out-growers in their internal meeting and give feedback to improve the working relationship.

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