KAMPALA. Rice producers have admitted to shortages of rice in the country, leaving consumers uncertain of what lies ahead.
This development comes just days after some of the big sugar industry players in the country say they plan to massively lay off their employees who have been rendered redundant due to shortage of sugarcanes, resulting from unfair competition with the small mushrooming sugar millers.
In an email interview whether there is rice slump in the country, the chairperson of Rice Millers Council of Uganda, Mr Philip Idro, said: “Yes, this is true, but not at crisis levels.”
He added: "It is also not production alone (that has caused the slump) but increased demand due to population growth and change of diet as well.”
He explained that there is a general food shortage in the region, a reason why Kenya has imported maize from Mexico and Tanzania has stopped exports of grains.
There have also been failures of harvest of rice in Northern Tanzania (Mwanza and Bukoba) which exported some rice into Uganda.
As a result, northern Tanzania gets their supplies from Dodoma as well.
According to consumer advocates, already the population is facing hard times due to the grappling economy and the low purchasing power of the consumers.
The consumer protection organisations also say the effect of the recent drought and the uncertainty rocking the region following prolonged electioneering period in neighbouring Kenya, only tell of hard times ahead.
The activists also fear for the worst especially if companies such as Kakira Sugar Ltd owned by the Madhvani Group, Uganda’s biggest sugar manufacturer go ahead to lay off employees.
“Consumers in Uganda are already in a tricky position,” the executive secretary of Consumer Education Trust, Mr Richard Henry Kimera, said in an earlier interview.
Mr Sula Kasule, a trader in Kampala said the situation should not be allowed to reach crisis point, saying the government should act now.