The Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) has submitted recommendations to the Parliament’s tourism, trade, and industry committee for consideration in the Sugar (Amendment) Bill, 2023. The bill outlines the establishment of the Uganda Sugar Industry Stakeholder Council.
EPRC suggests revising the council’s composition and functions, deeming them crucial for the sustainable development of the sugar sub-sector. Dr. Madina M. Guloba (PhD), a senior research fellow at the EPRC, presents concerns about the biased title, “Uganda Sugar Industry Stakeholder Council,” proposing a change to “Uganda Sugarcane Stakeholders Council.”
Guloba highlights the potential bias in the chairpersonship being under the trade ministry, suggesting a more impartial approach. EPRC also notes unclear criteria for selecting sugarcane outgrower representatives, recommending a review based on geographical and structural differences.
The EPRC emphasizes the need to recognize the diverse stakeholders in the sugarcane sub-sector, suggesting additional slots for key participants such as research and standards. They propose that the council’s chairperson should possess sugarcane industry knowledge, neither being a miller nor an out-grower.
However, concerns are raised by legislators, with Richard Gafabusa expressing worries about the government’s support for sugarcane farmers and the sustainability of the council. Questions are also raised about the legality of licenses issued after the Act came into force.
Sugarcane outgrowers petitioned Parliament, alleging licensing violations and exploitation by sugar factories. Farmers claim they face challenges in obtaining fair prices, support services, and credit access, leading to financial struggles.
Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi responds, stating that the law will be amended to introduce a Sugar Council, addressing concerns about the council’s independence. Sugarcane farmers and millers from all regions will constitute the council, with funding derived from a sugar levy on millers, eliminating government appropriations.