by Ronald Ssekandi
JINJA, Uganda (Xinhua) -- Gigantic
machines at Kakira Sugar factory in eastern Uganda roar
throughout the day and night processing the popular sweet
Truck loads of sugarcane line outside the
factory premises waiting to deliver cane.
However on the farms and in the market, things are a little
different as the prices of the end product, sugar, are
skyrocketing mainly due to the long dry spell that the country
experienced last year.
Less cane is now brought to the factory as a result of poor
This has resulted in falling sugar production.
Figures from the Uganda Sugar Manufacturer’s Association (USMA)
show that the country has been producing 500,000 tonnes of sugar
a year but due to shortage of the sugarcane, production is now
below 450,000 tonnes.
The meteorological department is warning that the country
should brace itself for tougher times as this year the dry spell
is going to be longer, leading to poor crop harvests.
Ugandans largely depend on rain-fed agriculture.
"This season has been so bad for us, our sugarcanes are
drying up in the gardens," Isa Budugo, a sugarcane farmer told
Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
Government argues that the spike in price of sugar is an
emergency that needs to be addressed.
Asked why the government did not anticipate the increase in
prices, Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde said they could not
foretell natural calamities like climate change.
Besides the natural calamities that have befallen the sugar
industry, there are other factors that are driving the run-away
The demand for sugar has increased both within the country
USMA data shows that Uganda consumed about 350,000 metric
tonnes in 2015 but this was expected to increase to 360,000
tonnes in 2016 judging from the demand.
Uganda also exports 25 percent its sugar to neighboring
countries like Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda,
and South Sudan.
Kyambadde argues that the manufacturers should release the
sugar in their reserves or else the government will consider
asking people to import sugar to address the supply shortages
that are pushing up the prices.
The government has also planned to start irrigation schemes
in the face of prolonged dry spells.
Some farmers are also planning to resort to irrigation
instead of depending solely on rain.
"I’m planning to start irrigation on my farm because if I
don’t do it, it will be me on the losing side.
"I cannot afford to wait until government starts its
irrigation programs," Budugo said.