Kakira Sugar Works under fire from farmers over supply permits

Kakira Sugar Works under fire from farmers over supply permits
Kamlesh and Mayur Madhvani, Joint Managing Directors of the Madhvani Group which controls the 14,000-hectare Kakira Sugar Estate.

Jinja, Uganda  | URN | Kakira Sugar Works is under fire from sugarcane farmers from Busoga Sub region for allegedly issuing supplier permits to politicians at their expense.

According to the farmers, the factory reduced their supplier permits from 1,000 in January 2019 to 400 by December last year.

The farmers claim that their plantations were duly inspected by factory officials and are surprised that the supplier permits are issued to outsiders whose farms have never been inspected.

They contend that politicians don’t own cane plantations and only act as middlemen because they purchase sugarcane from farmers at Shillings 65,000 per ton and sell it at approximately Shillings 110,000 to the factory.

Abdullah Luwangula, a farmer from Luuka district says the influence of politicians has jeopardised the industry as farmers stuck with mature cane are exploited and forced to sell their cane cheaply to middlemen.

George Kaune, from Mayuge district says factory should develop a transparency mechanism by pining lists of permit beneficiaries on their notice boards.

He says a select committee of both farmers and the factory managers should jointly inspect plantations of the permit beneficiaries so as to break political monopoly in the trade.

Swaleh Muduubo, a farmer from Jinja district, says farmers are tasked to write letters explaining their daily challenges before are they issued with permits, which he claims is humiliating and time wasting.

Nuhu Ssajjabi, the coordinator of cane farmers in Busoga sub region notes that sidelining local farmers will create a crisis in the cane industry as disgruntled farmers will pull out of the industry.

Mayur Madhivani, the Managing Director Kakira sugar works says the factory has initiated a system, which allows only farmers with mature cane to acquire permits.

He however, says congestion of sugar factories in one area has attracted unregistered farmers to join the trade yet they are uncertain of market for their harvest.

Meanwhile, 600 acres of sugarcane plantations belonging to Kakira Sugar factory were recently set ablaze.

They were allegedly burnt on Wednesday 12th, February 2020 by residents of Nailo village in Kakira town council, who were protesting the death of their colleague.

The deceased, Batista Atayo, was shot dead by a guard attached to industrial security services on allegations that he had stolen metallic scrap from one of the plantations, an accusation denied by the residents.

Atayo’s body was later dumped at Jinja regional referral hospital mortuary, where two bullets were removed from his body.

Angry residents then stormed Kakira Police division, demanding for the arrest of the guard in vain.

Sultan Ritochi, a resident says that they were forced to torch the plantation to express disappointment over failure by the police to take action.

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Charles Wamono, another resident says that security organs are reluctant to enforce law and order whenever they receive complaints from residents.

The Kakira Town Council LCIII Chairperson, Sande Kabule said that although he is against torching the plantation, police should exercise fairness.

“Madhivani group is our main investor and I don’t agree with the act of torching down his cane, but for only today, I am forced to believe that, my residents have been pushed to this because police has refused to arrest the suspect whom they even know, this is totally unfair,” he said.

Mayur Madhivani, the managing director of Kakira sugar limited said that the factory had suspended purchase of the out-growers cane so as to enable absorption of the burnt cane.

Jinja Resident District commissioner, Eric Sakwa said that security agencies are investigating the death of Atayo.