Luuka– Luuka district council plans to pass an ordinance that will compel farmers to leave some of their land for food production. Most households in the district grow sugarcane for sale. Leaders, however, say this has threatened the district’s food security, leading to rampant starvation and malnutrition.
“The moment [the ordinance is] put in place, we shall ensure that farmers with an acre of land or less abandon sugarcane business and instead concentrate on crops like cassava, maize, beans, yams and potatoes, among others, instead of planting sugarcane up to their hind doors or bathrooms,” said District Chairman Samuel Kakyada.
Kakyada was recently speaking in Kiyunga town, during a consultative meeting with Maureen Kyalya Walube, the new presidential advisor on poverty alleviation programme in Busoga.
Coffee and cotton, which were originally the major cash crops in Busoga, have now been replaced by sugarcane, with a maturation period of two years. Sugarcane farming was first popularized in this sub-region by Kakira Sugar Works Limited.
Demand for the crop was later heightened by the establishment of seven sugar factories that include: Mayuge Sugar Limited, Kenlon in Namasagali, Kamuli Sugar in Kamuli, GM in Njeru and Sugar and Allied Industries Limited (SAIL) in Kaliro, among others. Walube promised to sell the idea of the ordinance to elsewhere in Busoga.
“Sugarcane is not a Luuka issue but Busoga as a whole because investors have found the region a fertile ground for sugarcane,” she said. “This is good but the leaders have not sensitized the community to grow sugarcane alongside food crops for food security.”
Farmers have received the impending ordinance with mixed feelings. Fred Kayaka, a sugarcane farmer at Kamwirungu village in Bulongo sub-county, for instance says the low price of food crops is what has driven many people into sugarcane growing.
Kyalya is traversing Busoga on a familiarization tour and fact-finding mission to identify the causes of poverty in the sub-region. Later, she will compile a report to submit to President Museveni.