The Minister of State for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, David Bahati, has reassured farmers of stable sugarcane prices under the newly tabled Sugar Amendment Act. Speaking to journalists in Jinja city, Bahati explained that the existing sugar act linked sugarcane prices to market sugar prices, potentially exposing farmers to unfair pricing during bumper harvests.
Bahati highlighted that the new sugar bill, currently in its second reading, introduces a well-designed formula. This formula will allow both millers and the government to collaboratively set minimum prices for sugarcane, regardless of market fluctuations in demand and supply.
The Minister emphasized that sugarcane prices will be determined by considering various production factors, ensuring farmers earn reasonable profits. This approach aims to alleviate farmers from opportunistic middlemen who exploit bumper harvests to purchase sugarcane cheaply and later sell it at higher prices to millers.
Furthermore, Bahati announced plans to establish a government-led sugar council with equal representation from millers and farmers. This council will have equal decision-making power within the sugar industry.
Bahati clarified that these measures address oversights in the existing sugar act, aiming not only to stabilize sugarcane prices but also contribute to the industry’s growth as a significant revenue source for future generations.
He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to maintaining the no-zoning clause in the prevailing sugar act. According to Bahati, the new amendments will not reintroduce issues covered by the existing act.
Meanwhile, Stephen Mudungu, the chairperson of sugarcane farmers in Mayuge district, accused the government of not being proactive in regulating the sugar industry. Mudungu suggested that sugarcane regulation should fall under the Ministry of Agriculture to prioritize farmers’ needs over investor interests.