MASINDI – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said Uganda has been losing $50 million through importing refined sugar that is used in factories for production of soft drinks and medicines among other uses and described Uganda’s first Sugar Industrial plant at Kinyara Sugar Ltd as a step in the right direction.
The President is optimistic that once production increases, Uganda’s refined sugar will have a ready market both locally and throughout East Africa whose demand for industrial sugar is 150,000 metric tons.
“I will negotiate with these East African countries to buy our industrial sugar. And for us here we’re going to put a tax as soon as possible on the imported industrial sugar,” Museveni said.
Museveni was on Saturday commissioning a $15million Kinyara Industrial White Sugar Refinery plant in Masindi District.
The refinery, the first in East Africa constructed by Kinyara Sugar Ltd in Bujenje county Masindi district will produce 60,000 metric tons of industrial white sugar annually, consuming about 70,000 metric tons of mill brown sugar as raw material.
However, this is still below the local demand for industrial sugar which ranges from 78,000 metric tons to 90,000 metric tons annually according to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa.
President assured Ugandans of the market for their surplus sugar amounting to 220,000 metric tons out of the 600,000 metric tons produced annually yet local consumption remains at 380,000 metric tons.
“Our East African brothers can buy this sugar because the deficit they have is much bigger than this surplus. So I’m working with them…talking with H.E Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and now with Rwanda to solve this issue,” Museveni said.
Consumers of industrial white sugar such as beverage manufacturers, bakeries, confectionaries, pharmaceuticals etc will be able to obtain white sugar due to the reduced time between order and delivery. Relatedly in addition to the 12,000 directly and indirectly employed persons, the refinery will provide an additional 150 jobs.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa says his Ministry has licensed six other companies to produce refined industrial sugar and are at different stages of implementation. They include Sugar Corporation of Uganda, GM Sugar Ltd, Mayuge Sugar Industries, Kamuli Sugar Ltd and Uganda Group of Industries Ltd.
He, however, decried the unpredictability of the National sugar policy of 2010 and the National Sugar Act of 2020 which he said don’t bring enforcement of zoning, leaving farmers unsupported.
“To address this, my Ministry is drafting legislations to deal with registration of sugar cane farmers and millers. This will ensure the sector is well regulated,” Minister Mwebesa said.
The Board Chairman Kinyara Sugar limited Sarbjit Singh Rai thanked the President for the vision and the guidance towards the tremendous progress of the Ugandan sugar industry. He said the expansion and addition of the new production line of refined sugar will not only increase production but also employment opportunities at the factory whose number of employees has increased from 4000 to 12000 both direct and indirect.
The function was attended by among others Members of Parliament from the region, Masindi district leaders, sugar cane outgrowers and religious leaders.