Ugandan government is opposed to the proposal to export unprocessed raw materials such as sugarcane.
The Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister Amelia Kyambadde stated this while presenting a statement to parliament on the issue of excess sugarcane in Busoga sub-region.
Kyambadde told The House that the government discourages unprocessed exports so as to promote industrial growth through value addition.
She argued that although Busoga sub region has recorded 500,000 tons of excess sugar cane in the last two months, the existing sugar millers can process all the mature canes.
The excess supply was because the large sugar millers- Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) and Kakira Sugar shut down their factories for the routine annual maintenance last month.
To make matters worse, Mayuge Sugar, Kamuli and G.M Sugar Ltd factories reported machine breakdowns, which have left farmers mulling the option of exporting their sugar canes to Kenya.
On average, the six sugar milling companies in Busoga have installed capacity of crushing between 1,000 to 7,000 tons of sugar cane daily.
From the 20 licensed companies, about 650 million metric tonnes of sugar cane is milled to produce 600,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually.
However, Kyambadde says that between 2014 and 2018, the factories have been milling about 430 million metric tonnes of sugarcane and producing 410,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually.
She says that since 2014, sugar production has been declining “due to lack of sugar cane supply to the sugar mills amidst increased installed capacities.
According to Kyambadde, both the millers and farmers will make losses because experts recommend that harvested sugar cane must be processed within 36 hours otherwise the weight of the canes deteriorates the longer it stays unprocessed.
Her statement stems from a proposal by Busoga sugarcane out growers asking government to issue the permits to export sugarcane to sugar millers in neighboring Kenya. The out growers claim that the low demand from the sugar millers could affect their sugarcane, which have gone beyond the 18-month maturity period.
The Bugabula West MP, Henry Kibalya and Bunya South MP, Robert Ntende presented the outgrowers’ proposal to the House on Tuesday. To ensure that the problem of excess sugar cane supply does not arise in the future, Kyambadde says millers shouldn’t undertake maintenance at the same time.
However, the Bulamogi County MP, Kenneth Lubogo disagrees that the exporting sugar canes will cause scarcity in Uganda. He argues that the sugar milling factories lack the capacity to crush all the excess cane.
Kyambadde has pledged to present a more comprehensive statement to the House on how the sugar mills will address the issue of excess sugar cane.
On Wednesday, the Chairman of the Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association (USMA), Jim Kabeho downplayed the outcry on low sugar production, saying that the situation will normalize in two weeks’ time when all the six factories in Busoga resume operations.