A new sugar firm, Sugar and Allied Industries Limited (SAIL), has started off on the defensive, denying reports that they plan to grab land in Kaliro under the guise of supporting sugarcane farmers.
SAIL Managing Director Abid Alam says the reports are baseless and intended to stop outgrower farmers from supporting the company. Alam insists the company is assisting farmers with seed capital to engage in sugarcane production and in turn buy from them without any intention to grab any land from farmers.
There is increasing concern in the Busoga area that many farmers are dedicating a disproportionately large portion of their plots to cane-growing, pushing the sub-region to the verge of food insecurity. Suspicion of a corporate land-grab has only heightened that concern, but SAIL insist they are doing clean, ethical business.
“We are a registered and recognized company who believe in empowering the community we are working with but not exploiting them,” Abid said.
His assurance came as he met over 300 farmers from Kamuli, Kaliro, Buyende, Namutumba, Luuka and Bugiri districts under their umbrella organization Kaliro Sugarcane Outgrowers Association (KASOA) at his factory site at Bwayuya in Namugongo.
“We realized that many people had chunks of idle land which they would put to sugarcane production but lacked the capital and logistics; so, we are offering because we shall need sugar [cane] supplies,” Alam explained.
Alam disclosed that the factory would pay the farmers when they start sugar production in February next year. SAIL General Manager Syed Akhater Abbas says 3,000 farmers have registered with the company to acquire farm materials, including sugarcane suckers, fertilizers and herbicides.
“We also have tractors which help farmers in cultivation to keep the land fertile and productive instead of using hand tools, the hoes,” Akhater added. “We have acquired our own land of more than 300 hectares in Bufulubi, Mayuge district…, but we still need these out-growers if we shall achieve our target of producing over 2,000 tons of sugar daily,” he noted.