Gov’t seeks more time to consult on sugar bill

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, has asked Parliament for more time to consult on the Sugar Bill, 2019 that the President rejected over sugarcane zoning.
Kyambadde said that the government needed three more weeks to come up with a comprehensive report on its position after carrying out country-wide consultations with the sugarcane farming societies. This report will then be used by Parliament to reconsider the Sugar Bill.
President Yoweri Museveni asked Parliament to reconsider and provide zoning of sugar cane growing and production.
He said that the absence of zoning, which gives way to the entry of other small scale players into the industry, undermines the major sugar manufacturers leading to a drop in their output.
Parliament passed the Sugar Bill in November last year. The Bill sought to provide for the development, regulation and promotion of the sugar industry to ensure that there is sustainable, diversified, harmonized, modern and competitive sugar sector.
In the Bill, government had proposed zoning of 25km between mills with no more than one mill in that zone with outgrowers in that area only supplying sugarcane to it.
However, the legislators overwhelmingly voted against zoning saying it allows one manufacturer to monopolise sugar cane production in an area, which would lead to unfair prices to farmers and curtail outgrowers.
President Museveni said the Bill, as passed by Parliament, would spell doom for the sugar industry.
“Only medium and large scale sugarcane farmers operating on more than six acres should be allowed to partner with the factories,” he said, adding that setting prices for farmers should be based on the international market price of sugar.
The President noted that caution should be taken when dealing with small scale sugar operators who buy sugarcane at a higher price.