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Parliament protests arrest of sugarcane sellers in Kenya

Sugarcane being transported from Uganda to Kenya. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Parliament has on Tuesday, August 20, appealed to government to intervene in the dilemma of sugarcane out-growers who are currently stranded with their sugarcane following the temporary closure of sugar factories in Busoga sub-region.

The directive followed a concern that was raised by Bugabula South MP, Henry Kibalya during Tuesday’s plenary sitting who informed Parliament that desperate sugar cane growers were arrested at the Busia border while taking their products to be sold in neighbouring Kenya after manufacturers refused to buy the sugarcane from the local farmers in Busoga region.

Hon Kibalya described the move by the government as insensitive to the cry of farmers who have pleaded with Government to settle the debacle between the farmers and manufacturers.

He recognized that sugarcane out-growers want to quickly sell their sugarcane to save their land and houses which are mortgaged for loans from being repossessed by financiers, but the government is blocking them from selling their sugar cane to Kenya.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, questioned why the sugar out-growers are arrested for entering Kenya yet Uganda is a member of the East African Community and farmers were prompted to do this to save their merchandise.

Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives told Parliament that manufacturers did not take up the out-growers sugar cane because they were repairing their equipment at the same time which affected their demand for sugarcane but the speculators infiltrated them.

Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) told Parliament that there could be a deliberate move by the government to make its people poorer since most of the activities generating income for the poor is being taken over by big investors under the protection of the government.

He said that the poor is being squeezed, giving the example where the fishing industry is taken over by the military, sugarcane growers blocked to supply to the markets of their choice infiltrated ,Irish potato growers facing lack of market due to closure of Rwanda border ,the mining sector  is facing an unofficial ban on exporting minerals that have been processed.

“It is a matter that cuts across all sectors of the economy where the poor are being deliberately squeezed by government. The entire economy is being squeezed and people are surviving on handouts,” said Niwagaba.

Hon Niwagaba, who doubles as Shadow Attorney General said it was about time a motion was brought before Parliament to allow lawmakers examine the grievances of farmers and traders in all sectors of the and seek answers from the government some of the issues affecting the people.

However, Kyambadde rejected claims that Government if frustrating its citizens and Speaker asked her to come up with a statement regarding the fate of sugar cane growers and also directed Niwagaba to prepare his motion for debate.

“I thought you would be looking for solutions, but all the ten millers stopping work at the same time really, why do you allow Kenyans to come and buy maize here and then take everything here,” said Kadaga.

The Minister promised to present a statement explaining where sugarcane farmers can sell their sugarcane.

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