Acholi sugarcane growers seek Parliament help over stalled factory

Wednesday May 16 2018
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Sugarcane farmers led by Ms Santa Joyce Laker (R), the chairperson of Atiak out growers Sacco at Parliament on May 16, 2018. PHOTO BY MOSES KYEYUNE

PARLIAMENT: About 300 sugarcane out growers have run to Parliament seeking intervention into the failure for Atiak Sugar Factory to take off.
The farmers are from the district of Amuru, Gulu, Adjumani and Lamwo, and are worried about their trapped livelihoods.
It is five years, since Atiak Sugar Factory under Haryal investment Holdings Limited was rolled out in Amuru District, to commence sugar production, but has since stalled, leaving a number of sugar cane farmers stranded.

“The people shifted from food crops with hope to earn from sugar cane. Out growers are now worried that the factory will not take off in time to fully untilise the 4,000 acres planted,” reads part of their petition.
Kilak North MP, Anthonu Akol who read out the petition to the Speaker said that the farmers are stuck with no factory to sell their sugarcane and questioning why the minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, sold to them hot air.

The farmers accuse government of neglecting them after they willingly gave their land to the investor for the establishment of a sugar plantation that would be bought by the sugar mill.
Daily Monitor has also established that over 15,000 acres of land have been cultivates with most of the sugar nearing harvest.
Government officials including President Museveni have often made public commitments to supporting Atiak sugar factory owned by Ms Amina Hersi Moghe, but little effort has been undertaken to fulfill the pledge.
The farmers through their savings cooperatives; Atiak sugar out-growers cooperative society and GEL PACILD Sacco want Parliament to task the minister of Finance and the government to tell them the factory will become operational.

They also want to know the measure put in place to avert the looming losses that will be occasioned by the delay.
Ms Santa Joyce Laker, the chairperson of Atiak out growers Sacco said they had decided to petition Parliament after government showed no commitment to help them fight poverty.
“We want to fight poverty in our own way. The poverty alleviation programmes have been there with little results,” she said.
Ms Laker said that the communities are agitated because they surrendered their land and have since turned to accusing the sacco leadership of conniving with the investor to defraud them.
Government promised to give Shs 62 billion to the out growers to support the plantation but this has since gone missing.

Ms Rebecca Kadaga in her remarks said the delay was surprisingly questionable.
“I am surprised the money is not available. I remember talking to the minister to send the money,” she said.
She promised to task government and minister to respond to the issue, which she described as a crisis in the Sustainable Development Goals.

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