Kampala- President Museveni has signed the Sugar Bill into law months after he first rejected it over zoning.
While rejecting the Bill last year, President Museveni had reasoned that not everyone, for instance people with about six acres of land, should be involved in sugarcane growing, noting it should be left to large scale farmers.
In the Bill government had proposed zoning of 25 kilometers, which would essentially not allow establishment of a sugar mill within such a distance as well as proposing that out growers in particular areas should only supply cane to mills within that area.
However, Members of Parliament, especially from the Busoga sub-region rejected the proposals, arguing that small scale farmers cannot be left out as long as they can find factories where they can sell their cane.
Parliament subsequently passed the Bill but was sent back for reconsideration before it was resent to be signed by the President.
On Tuesday the Bill was gazetted into an Act after the President had signed it.
However, Mr Jim Kabeho, the Uganda Sugar Manufactures Association chairman, said Parliament should have considered the issue of zoning to enable farmers deal with particular factories.
Farmers attached to a factory, he said, enable quality assurance through continuous monitoring and training.
“We wanted zoning so that farmers work with a particular company to know what cane they harvest in a season and how it can be consumed … now that was not considered,” Mr Kabeho said, arguing that the Act failed to make sugar cane growers and producers make a commitment to each other.
“You will have no farmer committed to company-and-company to farmers. Additionally, having many sugar companies established everywhere because the law does not limit this is bad for the industry,” he said.
President Museveni assented to the Sugar Act on Friday last week.
Market for sugar surplus
The signing comes at a time when the President has made final deliberations for Uganda to export sugar to neighboring countries such as Tanzania.
Tanzania had previously locked out Uganda’s sugar on claims that dealers where dumping cheap sugar on its market.
Uganda and Tanzania have been involved in months of negotiations since last year.
According to the Minister of Trade Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda has the capacity to export about 48,000 tonnes to Tanzania alone.
“There is a shortage of sugar in Tanzania … they have accepted to partner with us to export our sugar,” she said.
Uganda, according to Ms Kyambadde has about 11 functional sugar mills producing about 510,000 tonnes.
Local consumption stands at about 360,000 tonnes per annum with a surplus of about 150,000 tonnes, which is sufficient enough for export.