Govt increases stake in Atiak Sugar project

Sunday October 20 2019

Investment. Atiak Sugar Factory in Amuru

Investment. Atiak Sugar Factory in Amuru District. FILE PHOTO  

By STEPHEN KAFEERO

Government has hiked its stake in the Atiak Sugar project, injecting in the much needed funds to boost works on the first major factory in the previously war torn northern Uganda. The factory is slated to open in the first quarter of 2020.
As of July 2019, Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), the holding company for government enterprises, has a 40 per cent stake in the company. The other major shareholder is Horyal Investment Holdings Company Ltd (HIHC) owned by Businesswoman Amina Hersi and a host of other investors.
The project is expected to maximise sugar and power production and use the byproducts from sugar production and molasses to produce ethanol for domestic and regional markets.
Major works such as installation of equipment and construction activities on the factory that had delayed have resumed while farming activities on the more than 60,000 acre plantation are in earnest.
This was after the investor secured funds for the project and government through different agencies met its part of the bargain as planned and agreed.
Some of the works completed or nearing completion include a cane preparation, handling and milling tandem, baggage handling, 50 tonne weigh bridge, auxillary cane carrier, feeder table, mill house, among others.
Hundreds of kilometres in roads throughout the farm have been built, including a bridge on one of the rivers that prevented the workers from moving easily. Government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) programme has disbursed Shs52b to facilitate sugar cane production in Atiak Sub-county, Amuru District, part of the vision to develop and support commercial agriculture and industrialisation of the country.
The fund covers all the steps of sugar plantation development including bush clearance, land preparation, seedlings planting and weeding of the crop.
Naads has funded a total of 28,841 acres of sugar cane to be planted. In the initial plant crop, the outgrowers shall receive 30 tonnes per acre with the factory buying each tonne at Shs120, 000 resulting in a profit of Shs3.6m per acre.
Naads implementing partner, Atiak Sugar has cleared 13,841 acres and so far planted 8,000 acres. Planting is ongoing at another 2,000 acres.
“The first crop alone from the full grant from the government, our beneficiaries shall receive Shs216b profit. The outgrowers comprise of 13,400 households. Each household will get a maximum of five acres and a minimum of three acres. A household with five acres shall make a profit of Shs18m per harvest and a household with 3 acres will profit Shs10.8m with the first crop,” Atiak Sugar Factory director Abdi Mohamoud Mohammed said.
The beneficiaries are war returnees, vulnerable women, demobilised ex-combatants, households with persons with nodding syndrome and all the chiefdoms of Acholi.
“The goal is to enable these beneficiaries to invest their enhanced incomes into subsistence farming back at home, create farmer groups for commercial farms which will start additional industries for value addition,” Mr Mohamoud added.
Amos Lugolobi, the chairperson of the budget committee, who led a team of more than 10 legislators, said the project was a demonstration of translating the value chain which policy makers have discussed for years from theory into practice.
“We have seen value for money, money that we have invested here. I think this project has turned out to be beneficial to the communities here. People severally affected by the war are returning from the displacement camps and this project assimilates them. That is a phenomenal achievement and government must be thanked,” he said.

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