New factory revamps Agoa fortunes

Ms Catherine Awori, a tailor at Fine Spinners factory displays a school T-shirt that was made at the factory in Bugolobi, Kampala . Photo by Stephen Wandera

KAMPALA- A new factory, located at the former premises of Tristar Apparel that was exporting textiles to the US under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), is to contact more than 30,000 small holder farmers to supply cotton to a new textile factory.

Fine Spinners Uganda Ltd, a new factory located in Bugolobi, Kampala is seeking to employ more than 1,500 workers to revamp the AGOA market, the chairman, Mr Jaswinder Bedi, has said.

“Since we started our operations a couple of months ago, we have been recruiting 50 workers per week. As of now, we have 622 well-trained employees at the factory and we intend to recruit up to 2,000 employees by the end of the year,” he told Daily Monitor yesterday.

The firm urgently needs tailors among other skilled manpower.

Mr Bedi’s pronouncement comes at a time when the firm’s competitor announced to down size its workforce due to lack of market for its products.
It has emerged that Southern Range Nyanza, an entity that operates former Nyanza Textile Industries Limited (NYTIL), laid off up to 600 employees after government stopped procuring from them.

“Government used to procure uniforms for armed forces like the army, police, prison, auxiliary forces and rangers and those for health workers on government payroll but stopped. This forced Southern Range to lay off about 600 casual workers from the garment section,” Ms Jane Achoda, a senior head of the garments section told journalists.

“Most sewing machines are not functioning because there are no people to operate them ever since government stopped procuring armed forces’ uniforms from Southern Range. We ask government to resume buying those uniforms from the factory so that we also earn money to look after our families,” she added.

Government now imports the forces’ uniforms from China yet local textile industries like Southern Range can also make the same uniforms, Ms Achoda said.

Unlike Southern Range, Fine Spinners first phase of the $40m (about Shs110b) is promoting government’s policy of adding value to agricultural produce for export.

It is also expected to directly employ more than 3,000 in the processing plant. The new development means raw cotton from eastern and western Uganda will be processed here into finished products before being exported.

According to Mr Bedi, Fine Spinners will manufacture finished products and 90 per cent is expected to be exported to USA under AGOA, the European Union under Economic Partnership Agreements, the East Africa Community and COMESA.

He said the company is looking to export to Russia, Canada, Australia, India and possibly China where Uganda’s goods are sold duty-free.

While addressing the Northern Corridor Projects meeting at the weekend, President Museveni hailed Mr Bedi for helping Uganda revamp the cotton sector. The President urged Ugandans to take the opportunity to fight poverty.