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Speaking to Daily Monitor at the weekend, Mr Bunty Seeruttun, the factory’s director for agriculture, said with mechanisation, more work will be done compared to relying on manual labourers
Atiak Sugar Ltd has acquired machines to improve productivity, according to management.
Speaking to Daily Monitor at the weekend, Mr Bunty Seeruttun, the factory’s director for agriculture, said with mechanisation, more work will be done compared to relying on manual labourers.
Mr Bunty said they are optimistic about revamping production after the government started to supply the machinery earlier this year.
“So far, we have received about 50 percent of the total orders of machinery needed by the factory. This will help us to reduce huge expenses incurred in recruitment of labour and we will be able to meet our production targets by all means,” Mr Bunty said.
According to Mr Bunty, with manual labour, they can only crush around 1,200 tonnes of cane and need at least 5,000 casual labourers to cut cane to meet the 1,600 tonnes of cane cuttings per day.
“We will recruit and train the local youth in northern Uganda on how to operate these machines. We have the experts here at the factory, this will also change the mindset of the community towards the factory.
The sugar factory has over the years lost cane worth Shs33 billion to frequent fires due to, among other reasons, a foiled relationship between the factory and the community.
Mr Bunty said the government should fasten the procurement of the machines so that by late 2024 or early 2025, the factory begins maximum production of sugar.
The government has so far spent more than Shs290 billion on the sugar factory, compared to its partner, Horyal Investments Holding Company Limited, which has injected Shs120 billion.
The factory was initially meant to provide a ready market for the sugarcane outgrowers in the region.
Last year, the factory suspended sugar production saying cane supply to the factory had reduced.
Since 2017, fires have gutted hundreds of hectares of the sugar plantation in the dry season.
Most of the burnt cane belonged to outgrowers, which subsequently demoralised them from engaging in production since their estates were not insured against fire, damages, or any other risks.
Mr Benson Ongom, the director of corporate affairs and public relations at Atiak Sugar Factory Ltd, said the factory has derived a mechanism to address issues of fire.
He said the factory will embark on sensitising the community and supporting them so as to improve relations.
“We don’t want the previous scenarios to repeat itself. So we want the community to own the project 100 percent,” Mr Ongom said.
In phase one, the factory was also supposed to use products such as molasses and bagasse to produce ethanol and up to 6MW of electricity.
Mr Ongom said: “We expect to run 85 percent mechanised and we appeal to the people from northern Uganda to apply for open opportunities at Atiak factory. We want the local people to benefit from the factory since its vision is to change the lives of the community.”
Ms Joyce Santa Laker, the chairperson of Atiak Sugar Cane Outgrowers Cooperative Society, yesterday said the move will ensure large scale production at the factory, which will benefit the locals.
Parliament approved a total of Shs108 billion in supplementary budget to fund the mechanisation of Atiak Sugar factory through the Uganda Development Corporation in FY2022-2023.