A recent study conducted by Makerere University’s Economic Policy Research Centre has revealed that Bunyoro sub-region has become the leading sugarcane producer. The study, which considered various factors, indicates that Bunyoro boasts the highest cane yield, with an average of 45 metric tonnes per acre. This figure is nearly double the yields seen in Busoga, which averages 24 metric tonnes, and Buganda, which averages 27 metric tonnes.
Furthermore, the study also highlights the input costs associated with sugarcane production. In Bunyoro, these costs stand at Shs17 billion, significantly lower than the Shs92 billion incurred in Busoga and the Shs37 billion spent in Buganda.
The expansion of the sugarcane industry in Uganda has been remarkable, with cane production increasing three-fold, or more than 380 percent, over the past two decades. In 2000, the industry produced approximately 1.5 million tonnes of sugarcane, which soared to 5.8 million tonnes by 2020. This growth can be primarily attributed to the expansion of harvested land, which increased from around 20,000 hectares in 2005 to over 81,000 hectares in 2020. Additionally, the establishment of mills, particularly in Bunyoro, attracted new outgrower sugarcane cultivators.
The study collected its data through household and community surveys conducted in November and December 2021. A total of 1,771 households were surveyed, with 1,179 of them being cane growers. Additionally, 72 community interviews were conducted across 12 sugarcane-producing districts in the Busoga, Buganda, and Bunyoro sub-regions. The study also gathered information through focus group discussions and key informant interviews.
Moses Isoko Kalyegera, the commercial officer responsible for local government, attributes the growth in sugarcane production in the Bunyoro sub-region to the increased number of factories in the area, including Kiryandongo Sugar, Hoima Sugar, and Kinyara. Kinyara, in particular, has about 7,300 registered outgrowers in the region.
Aldon Walukamba, the Kinyara corporate communications officer, mentioned that they have invested in a three-tier nursery program to ensure a clean seed mechanism that improves cane yield. He added, “Agricultural inputs like bio products (fertilisers and pesticides), pest control agents, chemical fertilisers, and herbicides are issued on a loan basis to the outgrower farmers.”