Cane Growers Ask Museveni to Take Action Against Kinyara Sugar, Hoima Sugar Ltd Whom they Accuse of Using Police to Mistreat and Block them from Supplying Other Factories

Sugar cane grower

Sugarcane Out growers in Bunyoro sub-region have asked President Yoweri Museveni who is also the Commander in Chief (C-I-C) of the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF), to intervene and take action against the officials from Hoima Sugar and Kinyara sugar limited whom they accuse of using police and other security agencies to harass, torture, mistreat and block them from selling canes to other areas in the country.

Farmers have so long complained against the harassment by the two factories that allegedly use security officials who man roadblocks to stop trucks, arrest and threaten them on ground the former should not sell canes to other places.

The latest incident happened in Kikuube where three Hoima Sugar Limited officials have now been dragged to Police on allegations of assaulting a businessman.

The victim, Fred Bakyali, 52, a sugarcane supplier for Kyejonjo Sugar Factory lodged an assault case against the three at Kikuube police station on Tuesday. Bakyali reported the assault case against the three at Kikuube Central Police Station Vide: SD REF 38/21/07/22.

The accused are Dhamodharah Murugan, a one Veketi (both are managers in charge of out grower farmers) and a one Matovu, the company’s sugar field supervisor.

Bakyali who is currently admitted at Kikuube health center IV in Kikuube District was allegedly assaulted by the suspects and joins a list of other complainants who preferred anonymity.

‘’The trouble started after they found the victim Bakyali loading trucks with sugarcane from the farm of Amos Byarugaba in Mukabara in Kizirafumbi Sub-county, whom Hoima Sugar Ltd officials claimed was their registered farmers’’, said a source.

The Albertine region Police spokesperson Julius Hakiiza confirmed the incident, adding that police had launched an investigation into the matter.

It is alleged that the Hoima sugar employees attempted to impound the Lorries but Bakyali and his colleagues resisted since they had been contracted to load the canes.

Bakyali noted that they were overpowered as his colleagues ran away for safety adding that the suspects and others beat him to pulp.

‘’They accused me of harvesting sugarcane from their alleged registered out grower yet the farmers who sold him sugarcane are independent and can supply to any buyer’’, he revealed.

However, Veketi denied the allegation of assaulting the Bakyali, saying that claims are aimed at tarnishing their names. He noted that they only tried to block Bakyali and his group from loading sugarcane from their registered farmer.

He accused the Bakyali of conniving with Kyejonjo Sugar Factory to illegally buy sugarcane from their registered suppliers.

However, some of the Hoima sugar out growers said that several farmers are running away from the sugar manufacturing company due to persistent mistreatment.

Some farmers who preferred not to be mentioned for purposes of their security said they are tired of being mistreated by the two factories that give them little pay for canes and also use Police to arrest the drivers out growers and impound trucks when they decided to take canes outside Bunyoro.

‘’We are asking the Parliament and President Museveni to intervene because we are sitted on a time bomb. This is a very critical moment when we can’t afford to recover even the money we invested in growing canes. They should allow us have freedom to supply canes where we want since we incur in a lot and if we find good prices elsewhere why should Kinyara or Hoima Sugar block us ?’’,asked one of the farmers .

Mesach Asab, one of the farmers said that delayed payment for their sugarcane, low prices, delaying to harvest sugarcane, and refusal to buy burnt sugarcanes as some of the factors forcing farmers to sell sugarcanes to Kyenjojo sugar factory and other companies.

Correspondingly, Sugarcane farmers in Masindi district under their umbrella Masindi Sugar Cane Out growers Association Ltd -MASGAL have been at war with Kinyara Sugar Limited protesting the price for sugarcane offered by the factory.

The Association is the biggest supplier of sugarcane to Kinyara Sugar Works Limited situated in Masindi district.

For example, in July 1st 2021, the Kinyara announced the new price for cane at Shs88, 400 for the 2021/2022 financial year. The new price indicated a reduction from the previous financial year’s price of Shs91, 586 per ton which left many farmers in a huge losses and alleged mistreatment by factory authorities.

Cosmos Byaruhanga, chairperson for Masindi Sugar Cane Out-growers Association Limited and also the Masindi district chairperson said many decisions like new prices are announced without consulting and considering farmers.

Byaruhanga noted that they’re in total disagreement with Kinyara’s actions, saying sugarcane farmers do not benefit from anything.

‘’There is no convincing reason which is given to farmers as to why the price reduces ‘’, he noted.

John Abigaba, an out grower says the mistreatment including unfavorable price by Kinyara sugar limited is not effective and they will not accept to supply their cane to the company, adding that they cannot accept a cut in the price of sugarcane when the cost of producing sugarcane has shot up.

Alice Alinaitwe, another out grower said Kinyara sugar limited management can’t determine the cane price without the consent of the out growers and wondered why the company uses local authorities including security to harass out growers who have decided to look for better prices outside Bunyoro Sugar Mills.

For years, the Hoima Sugar and Kinyara Sugar Ltd companies have been feuding with the out growers over cane prices and blocking them from supplying canes to other factories. The out growers have always accused the two sugar companies of exploitation and hiring security to harass, threaten and torture them over inexcusable agreements.

In March 2018, Kinyara Sugar Works Company Limited cut the price of a ton of sugarcane from 141,000 to 82,000 Shillings.

This also caused protest among the out growers forcing them to suspend sugarcane supply to Kinyara, but still many decried harassment by a section of police officers on various road blocks.

Kinyara Sugar Ltd then indicated that the new cane price for the 2020/2021 financial year would be Shs91, 586 per tonne of sugarcane sold by the out growers, down from the previous price of Shs108, 200 shillings per tonne a thing that angered the out growers again.

This has prompted many to supply canes to other factories in the country amidst alleged threats and torture by the former.

As a result, farmers want Parliament and President Museveni to take a action against the responsible officers on allegations of torture, Bribe inhuman and degrading treatment against the out growers.

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