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4,500 sugarcane out growers in Amuru suspend planting due to floods

Atiak Sugarcane Plantation Out growers Cooperative Society has suspended planting of sugarcane on 2,000 acres of land due to persistent rain and resultant floods.

Santa Joyce Laker, the Chairperson of the Cooperative society with 4, 592 members, says they should have ploughed and planted from April to October, but the relentless rains that have pounded the sub-region since August have hampered their plans.

“We started ploughing in April till July and from August, we started experiencing problems of floods and soft soils which could not allow the tractors to move,” Laker said.

Without disclosing how much money was spent on ploughing this year, Laker said most of their fuel was used in pulling tractors bogged down in the mud. 

“We spent Shs 100,000 to plough an acre each day, from April to July, and in the end, we did not plant even a single cane seedling on the ploughed land,” Laker said.

Since 2018, the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), has invested more than Shs 25 bn to open up more than 28,000 acres of land for sugarcane plantation in Amuru and Lamwo districts.

Laker said they have advised the out growers to identify land in raised areas, so that they are not affected by floods in the future.

She said the cooperative will resume ploughing next month, when the rains have subsided, so that by March next 2021, the farmers can start planting.

“We shall start re-opening land in December to February when rains have reduced or stopped. But the weather has changed so much now that we can only hope,” she said.

Acoli has received unusually high levels of rain in this year. Reports from the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, show that the rain will continue till late November or early December.

The postponement by farmers of sugarcane planting is likely to prolong the sugarcane shortage that hit Atiak Sugar factory, just two weeks after it started producing sugar in August this year.

Dan Fred Kidega, the factory’s board Chairperson, said only 3000 out of 30,000 acres of sugarcane, both in Lamwo and Amuru districts are ready for harvest.

In August this year, while showcasing the factory’s maiden sugar production, Dr. Amina Hersi Morghe, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, said the factory was crushing only 800 metric tones of cane daily, way below its daily capacity of 1,650 metric tones.

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