The Busoga Kingdom officials on Monday petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga over the contentious Sugar Bill 2016.
The officials led by their Prime Minister, Owek Dr. Joseph Muvawala strongly rejected the proposal by President to introduce some clauses in favor of investors owning manufacturing mills.
The Bill was passed by Parliament in November 2018 and sent to the President for assenting but Museveni rejected the Bill and returned it to the house asking legislators to reconsider and provide zoning of sugar cane growing and production.
Sugar cane farmers and MPs are against zoning saying it gives investors leverage to monopolize out growers. Zoning implies that farmers within a certain prescribed location should only sell their cane to the factory or mill in that particular locality.
Muvawala told the Speaker that the arguments by sugar investors that zoning will increase supply is not true since much sugar cane is being supplied by the out growers to factories.
In the Bill aimed at regulating the sugar industry, Government had proposed a zone of 25km between mills with no more than one mill in that zone and out-growers in that area only supplying sugarcane to the mill.
Busoga officials also protested the clause in the Bill allowing a miller to also be an importer.
They propose that people who are millers should not be importers; that anybody involved in milling should remain in milling.
Speaker in her response, said the Bill should not be rushed and emphatically stated that zoning is not being done in areas producing milk, beef, coffee and others.
“It is my considered view that we should not rush this matter of zoning. When you look at other areas that produce coffee, milk, bananas, all these areas are not zoned,” said Kadaga.
She emphasized that sugar is a major cash crop in Busoga, and Article 40 of the Uganda Constitution stipulates the economic rights of people.
“There’s need for dialogue and understanding. This is about people’s lives and we should move together,” added Kadaga.