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THIS WEEK: Parliament rejects zoning as sugar bill is passed

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament has passed the Sugar Bill that seeks to regulate the industry. In the new piece of law passed on Nov. 23, the MPs rejected a government proposal to provide operating zones for mills which they had put at a distance of 25kms apart.

Instead of zones proposed by government, the Committee on Trade that considered the Bill, proposed to have a nucleus operating area of 2,000 hectares. The Chairperson of the Committee, Robert Ssebunya, conversely noted that the committee proposed an amendment that a sugar mill or plant has a nucleus estate instead of a zone of 2,000 hectares from a 25km radius.

“This will be able to address the issue of scarcity of sugarcane, create order and will help mills to operate optimally and break even,” he said.

However, MPs noted that the nucleus would raise a number of issues concerning the availability of land.

“You cannot easily get 2,000 hectares today; secondly you will be creating a monopoly in that area because this restricts out-growers to selling sugarcane to only that mill,” said Iganga legislator Brenda Asinde whereas Koboko’s district’s Margaret Baba Diri said it’s unrealistic to leave government to dictate the size of the area where a mill will be established because 2,000 hectares is too much and gives the miller a big expanse to have control over,” she said.

Among other things that the MPs voted on is doubling the number of out growers on the Uganda Sugar Board from two to four considering that they are the majority.

The bill seeks to provide for the development, regulation and promotion of the sugar industry to ensure that there is a sustainable, diversified, harmonized, modern and competitive sugar sector.

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