Long-dormant sacco in Masindi bounces back

A long-dormant savings and cooperative credit society has been revived.

The Masindi Savings and Cooperative Credit Society Limited has been revived by members after a two-year lull.

The SACCO membership comprises mainly active and retired civil servants of the Masindi district local government.

On April 1, Moses Kalyegira, the Masindi district commercial officer, convened a special general meeting that elected a new board.

Addressing the meeting at the council chambers, Kalyegira said the SACCO had been dormant for two years because the board chairperson resigned under unclear circumstances. After her resignation other board and SACCO members lost interest in the association, Kalyegira said.

“This is a special meeting because the board has failed to perform its duties. I have engaged the former chairperson Ruth Kisakye three times to convene a meeting so she could hand it over officially but in vain. I have decided that I chair this meeting so that the SACCO can put in place a new board to start conducting business because the business couldn’t go on without signatories,” he explained.

Kalyegira said he convened the meeting because he couldn’t just sit and let the SACCO collapse. He wondered why SACCOs of people with little financial knowledge were thriving and theirs full of professionals in finance was limping.

“People have been unable to access services and yet they have money on the SACCO account because board members lost interest. Let’s forget that and start a new chapter today. I have been receiving many complaints from members about their money being idle in the bank and being deducted,” Kalyegira said.

The outgoing board treasurer, Charles Musinguzi, and the vice-chairperson Godfrey Baharagate attended the meeting.

According to Kalyegira, the SACCO, which started in 2003, at one time had about 300 members before those numbers dropped to just 100 active members currently.

“The purpose of its formation was to enhance a saving culture amongst members and to offer loans at a low-interest rate to civil servants,” he noted.

Charles Musinguzi, the outgoing treasurer told members that Shs 20 million was loaned out. He said the SACCO has Shs 6.5 million on the account. He also said there’s a time savings totaled Shs 70 million.

“Some people are willing to pay back our money but they have not done so because we have not been active. This is the time to forget the past and set a new agenda,” Musinguzi said.

He said some monies may be difficult to recover.

“The mode of recovery and saving was an automatic deduction from the salaries. Recovering this money might also be a challenge because some civil servants no longer work with us,” he said.

Elections

During the elections presided over by Moses Kalyegira, Ibrahim Nasur, the senior assistant secretary for the Kyatiri town council, was elected as the board chairperson, Charles Musinguzi, the retired personnel officer, is the new secretary and Patrick Okise, the principal internal auditor, is the treasurer.

Other board members include; Prudence Alituha, the principal fisheries officer, Godfrey Bahemuka, the district community development officer, James Mugoya, the lands officer, and Oliver Mabeho, a teacher.

The supervisory committee has David Baguma, the chief finance officer, as its chairperson while Joseph Kabubi and Mary Birungi were elected as members.

In his inaugural speech, Ibrahim Nasur said, “I am one of the people who had lost interest. This is a SACCO for technocrats. How can it fail?”

“My first agenda is to ensure that people’s money is recovered. I will also follow up to see whether the money deducted automatically for saving and repayment is remitted to the SACCO,” he stressed.

Patrick Okise, the new treasurer, urged people who had lost interest to come back.

“We need to wake up now and revive this SACCO because it can give us loans at a low interest. Every day we are exploited by banks and other financial institutions who give us loans at over 40% interest and yet we can do it ourselves at a low interest. We need to wake up now.”Okise said.

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Cooperative slashes fees to attract new members

To shore up its numbers, Lira Diocese Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited has slashed its membership fee from Shs 50,000 to Shs 30,000 to encourage registration of new members with minimal fees.

In a speech at the recent annual general meeting (AGM) held at the Apostolic Social Centre in Lira City, Cyprian Okello, the cooperative’s vice-chairperson, said many people had failed to register because they couldn’t afford the registration fee of Shs 50,000.

“We are forming the central mobilization committee. We shall ensure that each and every parish forms a mobilization committee that will include the catechist, parish priest, and the key people to strengthen mobilization, we want people everybody to understand the benefit of joining a cooperative,” he said.

So far the cooperative has 150 members. It was formed by Sanctus Lino Wanok, the Bishop of Lira Diocese in 2019, to improve the livelihoods of Christians in the nine districts of the Lango sub-region.

Patrick Vincent Muge, a member of the cooperative, said to succeed, the cooperative should engage only able and willing people to carry out Sacco activities.

Muge also urged the leadership to carry out more mobilization of Sacco members.

Father John Bosco Oryema, a member of Alito Catholic parish was excited by the reduction of the membership fees, saying it will encourage women to participate in the cooperative.

“The reduction will give avenues for women to join the cooperative, most women spend their money on running the day-to-day family affairs but now the fee reduction is an open chance for them to join the cooperate and save money to grow,” he noted.

Rt. Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, the founder of the cooperative, rallied the public to join the cooperative to alleviate poverty.

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic that negatively affected businesses, the time is now for people to head towards a direction that will make them easily assist one another, cooperate in business enterprises and alleviate poverty,” he said.

The man of God nudged the clergy to mobilize the community to join the cooperative to increase household income and improve their livelihoods.

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Banyabindi to boycott 2021 elections due unfulfilled pledges

Over 10,000 members of the Banyabindi community, a minority tribe in Kasese district have resolved to boycott the 2021 general elections due to unfulfilled government pledges.

The Banyabindi were displaced, without compensation, during the establishment of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ibuga prisons between 1962 and 1980 by the then governments. They faced further displacement due to the two decades-long Rwenzururu rebellion which ended in 1982. The displacement continues to render them less productive.

Augustine Byabashaija, the Chairperson of the Banyabindi Cultural Trust, says the community has been advocating for resettlement and compensation of their land by government for many years now, and have received several promises in that direction, the latest being an 8th February, 2016 pledge by President Museveni at State House, Nakasero. To date, none of these promises has materialised.

Now, the frustrated Banyabindi have vowed not to support any leader who does not champion their issues.

“No land, no vote”

During their Annual General Assembly held at Muhokya primary school in Kasese district, under their umbrella organization, Banyabindi Cultural Development Trust (BACDET), participants resolved to shun elections should president Museveni fail to honour a 2016 pledge to resettle them.

“This time round, there is nothing for nothing. We have been patient with the government for all these years, in vain. We must get the land that the president promised us in broad daylight!” thundered Augustine Byabashaija, the Chairperson of the Banyabindi Cultural Trust at the weekend meeting.

The Prime Minister of the Bunyabindi cultural institution, Christopher Kitakakire, appealed to members to be resolute in demanding what is due to them.

“I appeal to you to be strong and demand for what is owed us. If others have had their land compensated, why not us?” Mr. Kitakakire asked.

For his part, the Banyabindi’s cultural leader, Mr. Elisha Mugisa Ateenyi, told the members in attendance that if they must vote, they should only elect candidates who can take their plight to heart, adding that their vote should not be taken for granted this time round.

Still no redress

In August last year, the Equal Opportunities Commission directed government to resettle members of the Banyabindi minority group living in displacement in and around Kasese district within twelve months of the date of the ruling. The ruling concluded a two-year-old petition to the commission by the Banyabindi over alleged marginalisation.

However, in an exclusive interview with theCooperator, Byabashaija was bitter that, to date, government has not given them redress despite the Commission’s ruling. Instead, he lamented, they have been shunned by government officials.

‘Nothing for nothing’- Augustine Byabashaija (R), Chairman Banyabindi Cultural Trust called for a boycott of the 2021 elections if their concerns are not dealt with. Photo by Enid Ninsiima.

“You can imagine after winning the case before the Equal Opportunities Commission, none of the leaders want to associate with us,” he said.

“For this function, we invited the Minister for Presidency, who was to represent the Minister for Gender but nobody is here; not even the district leaders. This is an indication that we are on our own and therefore there is no need for us to vote.”

“Be patient”

However, speaking to theCooperator, the RDC Kasese Lt. Joe Walusimbi who was unable to attend the function, called upon the Banyabindi to be patient as government finds a way to resolve their issue, arguing that land compensation is a complex undertaking that cannot be hurried.

“If they boycott the elections and the person who promised them redress is voted out, who will honour their pledges?” he asked rhetorically, adding that the aggrieved minority should participate in the political process in order to get the political representation they have long been advocating for.

According to the 2014 Housing and Population census, the Banyabindi population stands at 16,000. However, the community’s own records put the current number at over 50,000, scattered in different districts in Western Uganda, with 20,000 of them allegedly landless and in need of urgent government intervention.

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Banyabindi to boycott 2021 elections due unfulfilled pledges

Over 10,000 members of the Banyabindi community, a minority tribe in Kasese district have resolved to boycott the 2021 general elections due to unfulfilled government pledges.

The Banyabindi were displaced, without compensation, during the establishment of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ibuga prisons between 1962 and 1980 by the then governments. They faced further displacement due to the two decades-long Rwenzururu rebellion which ended in 1982. The displacement continues to render them less productive.

Augustine Byabashaija, the Chairperson of the Banyabindi Cultural Trust, says the community has been advocating for resettlement and compensation of their land by government for many years now, and have received several promises in that direction, the latest being an 8th February, 2016 pledge by President Museveni at State House, Nakasero. To date, none of these promises has materialised.

Now, the frustrated Banyabindi have vowed not to support any leader who does not champion their issues.

“No land, no vote”

During their Annual General Assembly held at Muhokya primary school in Kasese district, under their umbrella organization, Banyabindi Cultural Development Trust (BACDET), participants resolved to shun elections should president Museveni fail to honour a 2016 pledge to resettle them.

“This time round, there is nothing for nothing. We have been patient with the government for all these years, in vain. We must get the land that the president promised us in broad daylight!” thundered Augustine Byabashaija, the Chairperson of the Banyabindi Cultural Trust at the weekend meeting.

The Prime Minister of the Bunyabindi cultural institution, Christopher Kitakakire, appealed to members to be resolute in demanding what is due to them.

“I appeal to you to be strong and demand for what is owed us. If others have had their land compensated, why not us?” Mr. Kitakakire asked.

For his part, the Banyabindi’s cultural leader, Mr. Elisha Mugisa Ateenyi, told the members in attendance that if they must vote, they should only elect candidates who can take their plight to heart, adding that their vote should not be taken for granted this time round.

Still no redress

In August last year, the Equal Opportunities Commission directed government to resettle members of the Banyabindi minority group living in displacement in and around Kasese district within twelve months of the date of the ruling. The ruling concluded a two-year-old petition to the commission by the Banyabindi over alleged marginalisation.

However, in an exclusive interview with theCooperator, Byabashaija was bitter that, to date, government has not given them redress despite the Commission’s ruling. Instead, he lamented, they have been shunned by government officials.

‘Nothing for nothing’- Augustine Byabashaija (R), Chairman Banyabindi Cultural Trust called for a boycott of the 2021 elections if their concerns are not dealt with. Photo by Enid Ninsiima.

“You can imagine after winning the case before the Equal Opportunities Commission, none of the leaders want to associate with us,” he said.

“For this function, we invited the Minister for Presidency, who was to represent the Minister for Gender but nobody is here; not even the district leaders. This is an indication that we are on our own and therefore there is no need for us to vote.”

“Be patient”

However, speaking to theCooperator, the RDC Kasese Lt. Joe Walusimbi who was unable to attend the function, called upon the Banyabindi to be patient as government finds a way to resolve their issue, arguing that land compensation is a complex undertaking that cannot be hurried.

“If they boycott the elections and the person who promised them redress is voted out, who will honour their pledges?” he asked rhetorically, adding that the aggrieved minority should participate in the political process in order to get the political representation they have long been advocating for.

According to the 2014 Housing and Population census, the Banyabindi population stands at 16,000. However, the community’s own records put the current number at over 50,000, scattered in different districts in Western Uganda, with 20,000 of them allegedly landless and in need of urgent government intervention.

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Over 2,000 farmers in Apac set to benefit from a new rice growing project

Farmers in different cooperatives in Lango Sub Region are set to benefit from a recently introduced rice out growers scheme. At least 2,000 farmers in Apac district, have been supported to start growing rice more than 20,000 acres of land spread in Cawente, Maruzi, Nambyeso, and Ibuje.

The farmers will be further supported through a partnership between Clean Energy Partnership Africa (CEPA) Uganda, FOL Logistics, Tulima Solar Group and Equity Bank.

CEPA will provide the training and rice bulking, FOL Logistics will offer seeds and agro inputs and market, Tulima Solar will provide solar irrigation pumps, while Equity bank will provide loans to the rice growers.

Roselyn Atim, a member of Ibuje Sub-County Women’s SACCO and prospective beneficiary of the project, expressed her hope that it would help them boost their household incomes.

“We have been grappling with poverty in addition to challenges of bad weather, poor soils, and inadequate finances to grow rice on a large scale. We are happy these major issues are being addressed. Hopefully this will help us to increase our household incomes,” she said.

Atim was one of the hundreds of farmers being oriented on how best to grow rice and vegetables as a business during a meeting held at Apac Municipality recently.

Empowering Ugandan rice farmers

Speaking at the event, CEPA Chief Executive Officer, David Ebong, said rice growing is still a virgin area with good economic prospects for serious farmers.

“Rice consumption in Uganda stands at 225,000 metric tonnes annually, yet local production only amounts to 60,000 metric tonnes. To cover this gap, Uganda has been importing lots of rice from countries like Pakistan. We want to empower locals to take over this space,” he said.

Elizabeth Rumanyika, director for strategic planning at FOL Logistics told the farmers that the organization will avail them with fast yielding hybrid rice seeds, as well as agro based inputs such as fertilizers, farm machinery.

READ ALSO: Rice Farmers in East Africa to Benefit from $3million Grant

“There are about 35,000 rice farmers in Uganda today,” she said. “We need to train them, give them the best seeds and machinery, and tips on reducing post-harvest losses.”

Rumanyika further assured farmers of ready market for their produce.

“Farmers should not worry about finding market after harvesting the rice. We shall pay them in cash for all the rice they can supply. The issue of market is sorted,” she said.

Equity bank also pledged to support the farmers with credit.

James Odour the Equity Bank Manager Lira branch said the farmers will be given credit based on the records of farm businesses they have previously held, and priority would be given to those organized in SACCOs and other cooperatives.

Eventually, organisers hope to extend the training to other farmers in Apac, Kole, Dokolo, Amolatar, Erute, Alebtong and Oyam on the dynamics of rice growing.

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Masaka entrepreneurs wary of new Govt funding scheme

Potential beneficiaries of a new government funding scheme for specialised enterprise groups have expressed scepticism towards the initiative barely after its kickoff.

The new “Presidential Wealth, Job Creation Initiative”, commonly known as “Emyooga”, aims to identify specialized-enterprise groups from the parish level upwards that will be directly funded by government to boost their production capacity.

At its launch late last year, President Yoweri Museveni indicated that government had earmarked at least 100 billion shillings for the scheme.

Under the project, each enterprise group with a minimum of 30 members is required to form a SACCO which will then receive up to 30 million shillings in funding. The funds received will revolve amongst the members, at interest rates as low as 5 percent annually, to boost their respective income-generating ventures.

Beneficiaries sceptical

However, in a recent training on the project held in Masaka Municipality, leaders of various enterprise groups and SACCOs expressed scepticism about its viability, citing disappointing experiences with similar government initiatives in the past.

Norah Namukwaya, a member of Kimanya Women Briquettes Enterprise group, is afraid that systematic extortion by project implementers could render the funding worthless for the intended beneficiaries.

“We have experienced incidents where a group signs for Shs. 5 million, but actually receives only Shs. 3 million, yet it is supposed to pay back the full sum. Such inconsistencies have scared many of us from government programs for fear of losing our properties to unscrupulous individuals,” she said.

She demanded that the project be insulated from extortionist staff if it is to truly benefit entrepreneurs.

The tedious bureaucracy characteristic of such projects was also cited as a major challenge.

“Many of our members have lost trust in government financing projects after they were frustrated by the long bureaucratic tendencies involved,” said Reuben Kasumba, Treasurer of Nyendo-Zaire BodaBoda SACCO.

READ ALSO:Government to Invest Shs.100billion in the New ‘Emyooga’ Fund

Jude Mulindwa, another intending beneficiary, re-echoed this sentiment, decrying what he described as government’s chronic delays in releasing funds channelled through such wealth creation schemes.

He observed that some enterprise groups have resorted to privately-owned credit suppliers despite their exorbitant interest rates, because of their swiftness in disbursing needed funds.

“We cannot afford to pursue government funds for months- sometimes even up to a year. By the time the money is released, people have lost morale to carry out the intended projects,” he said.

‘Policy more important’

However, in a departure from the general clamour for expedited release of the project funds, Denis Bwanika a dealer in agricultural produce in Masaka central market, advocated for a greater focus on policy initiatives aimed at creating a favourable working environment for existing enterprises.

“People are already engaged in various commercial activities even without government’s direct financial support, but our frustrations are the lack of markets for our produce, inadequate value addition facilities, and costly inputs among others. Government should first sort out such limitations instead of issuing out cash handouts that will most likely fail to realize return on investment,” he argued.

In his submissions, Peter Muteesasira, one of the project trainers reassured the group leaders that government is committed to ensuring that the new project is a success. He indicated that they are also gathering public feedback which will be incorporated at higher decision making levels for the betterment of the project.

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Banana farmers count losses as strange disease rages on

Farmers in Western Uganda are counting their losses in the wake of a ‘strange’ banana disease that has ravaged plantations in the region for months now.

The disease, which has been attributed to banana rust thrips, leads to discolouration of the fruit peel from green to rusty brown or purplish in colour.

Although the disease does not seem to affect the fruit pulp which remains edible, customers are often unwilling to buy the discoloured bananas, leaving farmers stranded with unwanted produce.

“When people look at such a diseased banana, they assume that it is unsafe for human consumption,” says Samson Baguma, one of the affected farmers in Rwentobo-Rwahi town council.

Peace Kaconco, a banana farmer from Rubaare, lamented, “We are stuck with bunches of banana that have turned brown. No one will buy them, no matter their size.”

READ ALSO : Sebei Coop Farmers Frustrated by Erratic Weather

Francis Turyaheebwa, the Chairman LC 2 Kigaaga parish in Mwizi Sub County is worried that, unchecked, the disease could threaten households’ food security and ability to generate incomes.

“In this area we are highly dependent on production and sale of matooke (bananas). If this epidemic continues we are likely to lose both food and income,” he warned.

Some farmers even reported that their income from banana sales has been so affected by the outbreak that they have opted for soft loans to pay their children’s school fees for the recently started first school term.

Mounting frustration

Meanwhile, frustration is mounting among farmers in western Uganda over what many perceive as government’s inadequate response to the outbreak that is ravaging plantations in several districts and threatening the livelihoods of thousands.

For instance, Jotham Kyomukama a local politician in Mwizi sub-county blames the sluggish official response on incompetence.

“The fact that this disease is spreading so rapidly from one district to another shows how incompetent some government workers are. By now extension workers and agricultural officers should have intervened,” he said.

Residents in Rwampara confirmed to theCooperator that relevant authorities had not yet intervened on this issue despite being notified.

Preventive measures

However, district officials have advised farmers to destroy affected plants in order to control the spread of the disease. Albert Mugabe the Ntungamo District Production Officer told journalists that the extension workers have been tasked to move from farm to farm and help farmers properly dispose of the affected plants as more interventions are sought.

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Hope as Lango Cooperative Union gets new leaders

Maxwell Akora, the Maruzi Member of Parliament in Apac district has been elected Chairman Board of Directors of Lango Cooperative Union. Akora was elected unopposed at Union’s Special Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at Lira Municipal Council hall on Tuesday.

Maxwell Akora delivers his acceptance speech at Lira Municipal Council hall on January 28, 2020. PHOTO BY EVANS OKETCH

He replaces Johnson Engole who has been at the helm of the Union for a decade. Tony Ogwal, the Alebtong Town Council Chairman was elected Vice Chairman while Robert Akona is new treasurer. Other members elected to the Union’s board of directors are; Bonny Otim, Malandra Okello, Simon Ongom, Levi Wacha, John Okello and Tom Richard Opio.

The general meeting also elected a three-member Supervisory Committee headed by Owiny Dano. In his speech, Akora pledged to ensure cohesion of the board and revival of the once powerful Union.

The woos for the Union started decades ago. However, the current troubles dates between 2009 and 2011, when the former board of directors acquired loans that the Union failed to service.

For instance, the Union obtained a loan of Shillings 2.4 billion from the Micro Finance Support Centre to finance cotton growing in Lango sub region, but failed to pay back on grounds that the season was bad.

This prompted Micro Finance Support Centre to sell off the Union’s ginnery at Ngeta to recover part of the loan. The Union still owes Micro Finance Support Centre Shillings 1.45 billion. President Yoweri Museveni in 2016 directed the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperative to save the Union’s properties from being sold to recover the remaining loan balance.

As the Union came to its knees, cotton growing, buying, ginning and selling were heavily affected and this rendered the 144 primary societies that make up the Union also inactive. The Akora led board has its work well cut out– to revive the Union already choking on debts.

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Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

On 31 December 2019, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concern because when a virus is new, we do not know how it affects people.

One week later, on 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”

WHO has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day we were informed, to learn more about the virus, how it affects the people who are sick with it, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.

Because this is a coronavirus, which usually causes respiratory illness, WHO has advice to people on how to protect themselves and those around them from getting the disease. [ Statement from WHO ]

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Fires Threaten Atiak Sugarcane Farmers

AMURU: Members of Atiak Sugarcane Out Growers Cooperative in Amuru district are decrying the frequent outbreak of fires that have devastated their farms and left them counting huge losses.

About 3 fires targeting Atiak Sugarcane plantations have broken out in quick succession in the last 4 months, destroying millions of shillings’ worth of sugarcane. The latest fire broke out on Thursday last week, destroying 200 acres of sugarcane worth shs.600million in Gem Village, Pacilo East Parish.

The source of the fire is not yet understood, but the affected farmers say such fires have become a routine occurrence in recent months. Last year, 85 acres of sugarcane in the same area were consumed by a similarly conspicuous fire, while before, it in December 2018, 600 acres of sugarcane were also burnt, in a worrying trend that has left farmers unsure of how to protect their farms.

On Thursday, a case of arson was reported at Atiak Police station under CRB 08/2020, and police authorities say they’re doing their best to get to the bottom of what’s causing these fires.

While the real cause of the fire is still a mystery, other locals in the area suggest the fires could be an inside job, with some members of the Atiak Sugar Community aggrieved with the management of the Atiak Sugar project choosing to sabotage the enterprise.

Amuru LCV Chairperson Michael Lakony told theCooperator that they (district authorities) been long receiving complaints and disputes between the out-growers and Atiak Sugar project management many of which remain unresolved to date.

Although the Atiak Sugar Factory has provided needed income to thousands of sugarcane out-growers in the districts of Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Lamwo, Omoro, Pader, Agago, and Adjumani, majority of these (women constitute 80%), in order to maximize output are staying on the farms with neither security nor decent accommodation. TheCooperator has learned that most of the women spend nights in makeshift tents in camps within the farms. Moreover, sometimes, the factory delays to pay them, yet for the majority, sugarcane growing is the main source of livelihood.

“We have advised them to deal with the grievances they might be having in some areas so that harmony is realized. Nobody should reach a point of wanting to burn down their wealth. As a district, we have advised Haryal investment Holdings Limited officials on how they can do business on win-win situation but nothing much has been implemented,” says Lakony.

Joyce Laker, the chairperson of the out-growers is however adamant the fires will not drown their production momentum. “Preventive measures will be put in place, vigilantes who are also members of the cooperative will be on the high alert to keep closely monitoring their plantations,” she says.

Aswa region Police PRO Jimmy Okema told theCooperator that because of the size of the plantations, the fires are realized late after they have already consumed millions of shillings of crops, with the Police responding after so much damage has already been done. “There is need to have a watchtower so that fire can be seen from afar and firefighters called to rescue the situation early enough,” he said

He said the Police are embarking on a sensitization campaign in the community on the dangers of bush burning which often becomes rampant in the dry season. “The fires are rampant then (in the dry season) because people here are hunting for edible rats commonly known as Anyeri,” Okema said.

Lakony told theCooperator that the authorities will do their best to get to the bottom of what’s causing the fires because government has invested so much in the Atiak Sugar Factory to see it ruined or abandoned by frustrated out-growers.

The government has so far invested in excess of shs.127billion in the Atiak Sugar Factory, including shs.62.5billion through NAADs to support out-growers to clear land and buy sugarcane seeds to be able to supply the factory with constant sugarcane.

Started in 2014, the factory is a joint investment by Haryal investment Holdings Limited owned by businesswoman Amina Hersi and the Government of Uganda through Uganda Development Corporation, in which the latter owns 32% shares.

The factory currently sits on more than 25,000 acres of land at Gem Village, Pacilo East Parish, Atiak Sub-county in Amuru District and is once complete, expected to process 1,650 tons of sugarcane per day at full capacity, employ at least 1,500 workers directly and about 5000 out-growers indirectly.

Presently, the factory consumes sugarcane from about 15,000 acres, which are expected to increase to at least 25,000 acres when it begins full operation expected this year.

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