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Koboko leaders bitter over illegal operations of tobacco company

Tobacco farmers in West Nile. File Photo

Koboko, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Koboko authorities have raised a red flag on the activities of Uganda Tobacco Services (UTS) company, which they accuse of illegal entry into the district. The officials say the firm, which deals in both air-cured and dark fire-cured tobacco, has been transacting with farmers in the area since last year.

Koboko LC5 chairperson Ashraf Mambo, accuses the company of failing to adhere to the guidelines set by the district, which among others include setting up a demonstration afforestation farm.

According to Ratib Ismail, the Koboko District Commercial Officer, their priority is to save farmers from unscrupulous tobacco companies that fleece them.

In 2018, at least 1,500 tobacco farmers in West Nile, who sold tobacco to Continental Tobacco Company were stranded after the company left the area with outstanding arrears of Shillings 8.7billion.

Samanya Dramiga, the Koboko District Production, Marketing and Natural Resources Secretary has challenged farmers to remain vigilant so as not to fall prey to unscrupulous business people.

Simon Kenyi, the area manager of Uganda Tobacco Services company declined to comment when contacted on the phone by URN. “I’m not mandated to speak for the company let me refer you to the responsible person because that is our protocol,” Kenyi said. The company’s Agronomy Director, Tom Sawyer couldn’t be reached as his known mobile phone numbers couldn’t go through.

Efforts to curb the production of tobacco in West Nile over the years have not yielded desirable results as many farmers still attach their yearly incomes to it. Over 10,000 tons of tobacco are produced and exported from the sub-region with Terego, Maracha, and Koboko districts taking lead.



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