Masindi sugarcane farmers suspend supply to Kinyara

‘’We should first halt supplying Kinyara until we agree on a better price; if not, we should sell our cane to other factories. We invest a lot of money in this business.’’

By Innocent Atuganyira

Masindi: Sugarcane farmers in Masindi district, under the umbrella of Masindi Sugarcane Farmers Association Limited (MASGAL), have resolved to halt supplying cane to Kinyara Sugar Ltd.

The resolution was passed during an emergency meeting held on Saturday at Kabango Church of Uganda in Kabango Town Council, Bujenje County.

Farmers are protesting the dropped cane price reportedly imposed by Kinyara Sugar Limited.

In December last year, Kinyara Sugar Ltd. revised their cane price from 160,000 shillings to 181,000 shillings per tonne; however, on the 25th of this month, the company dropped the price back to 160,000 shillings.

During the emergency meeting held on Saturday, farmers unanimously resolved to halt supplying their sugarcane to Kinyara Sugar Ltd until the new cane price is mutually agreed upon.

Farmers speak out

Mr. Agaba Enock asserted that Kinyara should revise the cane price from 181,000 shillings to 210,000 shillings like other factories such as Kakira.

‘’If they can’t pay us 181,000 shillings, they should raise the price to 210,000 shillings, but they shouldn’t drop the cane price; if not, they shouldn’t harvest our cane,’’ he said.

Mr. Babihemaiso Abel insisted that if the company can’t maintain the cane price of 181,000 shillings, they should raise it to 210,000 shillings per tonne.

‘’Kinyara shouldn’t temper with our cane; we invest a lot of money in this business; if they can’t pay us 210,000 shillings like other companies, they should forget our cane.’’

Ms. Businge Joyce suggested that if Kinyara can’t pay them 210,000 shillings, they should search the market for their cane elsewhere, stressing that they can’t be cheated, yet there are other companies willing to buy their cane at a higher price.

Mr. Byarugaba Godfrey challenged the farmers to be united and stop supplying their cane to Kinyara until the cane price is revised.

‘’We should block them from harvesting our sugarcane; in fact, we should put in place road blocks and impound any vehicle transporting our cane,’’ Joan Katusabe suggested.

Mr. Kanaginagi Ateenyi Rutindo, however, stressed that some farmers are not cooperative; they secretly meet the company’s authorities and beg them to harvest their cane, even at a tender age.

‘’We should first halt supplying Kinyara until we agree on a better price; if not, we should sell our cane to other factories. We invest a lot of money in this business.’’

Mr. Byarugaba Christopher suggested that if Kinyara can’t pay them 181,000 shillings as per the running cane price revised in December last year, they should seek justice in the courts of law.

‘’When they get a farmer who has a contract with them selling cane to another company, they sue him or her, and we should also sue them if they fail to comply with the running cane price.’’

Other resolutions

Kinyara to stop harvesting their cane until the price is mutually agreed upon; search markets for their cane outside the district; Kinyara to always pay them within the space of ten days, and if they delay, farmers will be paid with interest; Kinyara to stop deciding the price for their cane; the process of owning their factory; and MASGAL to always witness agreements between Kinyara and a farmer, rejecting zoning in order to compete in the cane market.

During the emergency meeting.

Leaders speak out

Robert Atugonza, the MASGAL board chairperson, said if Kinyara continues to harvest their sugarcane, they will pay 181,000 shillings, contrary to the dropped price of 160,000 shillings per tonne. ‘’If we fail to agree with the company, we shall direct farmers to impose roadblocks and impound trucks ferrying the canes to the factory. It’s better to halt the supply and get better pay than to be cheated.’’

Atugonza said that in case they part ways with Kinyara over the price of cane, they will search the market out in the district.

Patrick Byamukama, the MASGAL board secretary, said they came to an agreement with Kinyara over the price of cane, and if they fail to comply, they will seek justice in court.

‘’We told them to harvest their cane as we sort out ourselves over price, but they insisted that they don’t have enough sugarcane to run their factory even for a week.’’

Byamukama assured farmers that there is a high demand for sugarcane, and they have been approached by different factories.

During the emergency meeting.

Cosmas Byaruhanga, the Masindi district LCV chairperson, also echoed that there is currently a high demand for cane in the country and asked the MASGAL board members to implement the resolutions they have made.

‘’If possible, you should unite and direct the miller not to harvest cane until the price is mutually agreed; the battle over the price of cane has not started today and if not resolved, our children will also be affected.’’

Kenneth Kiiza Nyendwoha, the Member of Parliament representing Bujenje Constituency in Masindi district, wondered why Kinyara dropped the cane price yet there is high demand for sugarcane in the country.

Nyendwoha therefore supported the farmers’ resolutions and asked them to cooperate towards the cause.

Pius Wakabi Rujumba, the Member of Parliament representing Bugahya Constituency in Hoima district, asked leaders in Bunyoro to join the fight against low cane prices.

‘’Sugarcane growing is the main economic activity in the region; we shouldn’t just sit by the side when we are being cheated; let’s join hands and support our farmers to benefit from cane business.’’

Wakabi appealed to the ministry of trade to intervene in the cane price and negotiate with the miller instead of dictating the cane price.

Dr. Asiimwe Florence, the woman Member of Parliament representing Masindi District, pledged to work together with the farmer’s board and raise their issues on the floor of parliament.

Kinyara speaks out

Aldon Walukamba, the Kinyara Sugar Ltd. Corporate Communications Manager, told this publication that they have 13000 metric tonnes of sugar in stock stressing that one 50-kilogram bag dropped from 250,000 shillings to 208,000 shillings starting December 2023.

“We remain aware of the fall in the prices of sugar and it’s raw material sugarcane in Uganda and the East African Community. Our interim price of UGX 160,000 per ton is the best offer for a farmer in this country at the time. We will uphold that interim price until the end of the financial year when the final price will be announced,” he added.


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