Lack of sugar policy costing govt Shs550b, says Madhvani

Sugar millers say government has failed to implement the Sugar Policy, which could have helped in guiding the sugar sector. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • Government says the Advisory Council will guide and help in the growth of the sugar sector as well as streamlining the activities of millers 

Government is in the process of creating an Advisory Council consisting of sugarcane farmers and millers to oversee the sugar industry, Minister of Trade Francis Mwebesa, has said.

Mr Mwebesa made the revelation at Kakira Sugar during a meeting with the company’s Managing Director, Mr Mayur Madhvani. 

Their meeting followed a raft of challenges that the sector is facing as a result of absence of a Sugar Policy Act.

“We have decided to create an Advisory Council and the process has started. The Cabinet Secretariat has received the draft of the amended Sugar Act, while the Public Service Commission has already cleared the human resource needs,” Mr Mwebesa said, noting that after Cabinet had discussed and approved the draft, it will then be sent to Parliament for debate and enactment. 

Mr Mwebesa also noted that government was aware of the low sugar production due lack of cane, which has resulted in decline in recoveries of sugar factories from nine percent to six percent as well as a reduction in sugar export and an increase in prices for local consumers. 

Mr Madhvani, however, said government is killing the sugar industry by not implementing the Sugar Policy, which was approved by Cabinet, noting that there is need to “expedite creation of the Advisory Sugar Committee to implement, regulate and suspend those factories in close proximity and also stop creation of weighbridges as they encourage supply of premature cane, leading to low production of sugar”. 

Mr Madhvani also indicated that Uganda was this year set to export 150,000 tonnes of sugar worth $150m (Shs550b) to neighbouring countries, but because of the absence of a sugar regulatory body this hasn’t happened.

He also noted that congestion of sugar factories brought about by proprietors who want to avoid agricultural costs and support to extension services, has made a scramble for cane, especially in the Busoga sub-region. 

“It is not the number of factories that produce more sugar, but the strategic location of these factories with supported farmers and nucleus estate. The Advisory Sugar Committee should be empowered to stop this anarchy in the sugar industry,” Mr Madhvani noted.