Kinyara Sugar limited, farmers lose more than 3000 acres of cane to fire

MASINDI – Kinyara Sugar Limited and the sugarcane out-growers in Masindi district have lost more than 3000 acres of sugarcane plantation to fires since December last year, says Mathivanan Masilamani, the Agriculture Manager Kinyara Sugar Limited.

Every dry spell, Kinyara Sugar Limited and farmers grapple with fire which leaves them counting losses. In most cases, the cause of the fire is not established.

Some people say, the fire originates from bush burning, negligence, envy among others.

Mathivanan said most of the fires were experienced in the newly created sub-county of Bikonzi.

He further told theCooperator that more than 1000 acres of burnt cane have been supplied to the factory for crushing, 470.5 acres are still under haulage, 863 acres not taken because they were still young and 298 acres sold to other companies.

Last week, 516.25 hectares belonging to Kinyara and the farmers got burnt in Miirya sub-county in Masindi district.

The farmers lost about 348 hectares while Kinyara Sugar Limited lost 167 hectares.

The farmers who lose their cane to fires have been complaining that the company doesn’t take the burnt cane for crushing, hence making huge losses as farmers.

But Mathivanan dismissed that claiming that they have been taking the burnt cane and they are still doing so.

“When a farmer loses sugarcane to fires, he/she must foot the cost of transport, harvesting and loading. That’s the condition we gave them. We are doing this because we have a lot of overgrown cane we are supposed to harvest. If we focus on the burnt cane, we will be increasing the burden of the overgrown sugarcane. We did this after agreeing with Masindi Sugarcane Farmers Association Limited (MASGAL),” he explained.

But most of the farmers have been complaining that the costs are too much and they cannot manage it.

Robert Atugonza the Chairperson (MASGAL) says farmers have lost millions of shillings as a result of the fires.

“Measures have been put in place to fight fires in vain. I am discouraging the community members to desist from setting unnecessary fires,” said Atugonza.

Sugarcane poaching

Mathivanan noted that as a company, they are also grappling with sugarcane poaching, adding that they have lost more than 1000 hectares of sugarcane in a period of a year.

Two months back, security belonging to Kinyara Sugar Limited intercepted four Tata lorries attempting to steal sugarcane from Kinyara Sugar Limited Estates in Butoobe village in Bikonzi sub-county, Masindi district.

The company officials indicated that the vehicles with registration numbers UBH-009Q, UBJ-150G, UBJ-152G and UBG-578X were intercepted by the company’s security loaded with about 90 tonnes of sugarcane worth about Shs 7,956,000 at the point of arrest.

Sugarcane poaching implies taking away cane from out-growers supplying a particular factory to other factories and entities elsewhere.

Previously, during his state of the nation address on May 31, 2016, President Yoweri Museveni called for a stop to sugarcane poaching to avoid the risk of importing sugar from other countries due to low production.

Competition over sugarcane had in the past been limited to Busoga areas as Kakira Sugar Works complained about new millers eating into its 8,500 out-growers. But other big factories such as Kinyara Sugar Limited in Masindi has been facing the same challenge.

The practice in which emerging millers target established factories, buying sugarcane from out-growers has come to be known as “sugar cane poaching.

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