At least 400 casual laborers have been urgently recruited and deployed to harvest the sugarcane that survived a wildfire at Amuru Sugar Plantation recently.
Amuru Sugar plantation was gutted by fire on December 27, 2020, leaving 6000 out of 8000 acres of sugarcane destroyed.
Following the tragedy, the proprietors of Atiak Sugar Plantation resolved to recruit 1,000 casual laborers to cut down the remaining 2000 acres of sugarcane so that they are processed into sugar, to avert more losses from similar incidences. The plantation has suffered five fire outbreaks since 2018, leaving the sugar factory with losses worth billions of shillings.
Santa Joyce Laker, the chairperson of Atiak Sugar Plantation Outgrowers Cooperative Society, told theCooperator that so far 400 casual laborers, out of 1000 needed, have been recruited from Amuru, Gulu, and Adjumani districts, and have already started cutting the remaining sugarcane.
“They started working on Saturday and they are coming in shifts. We cannot wait till they are 1000 people to start work,” Laker said.
Laker said the company lost 75 percent of the sugarcane in the plantation to the fire, translating to an Shs 12bn loss.
“An acre of sugarcane yields Shs 2m. So, if you multiply 2m by 6000 you get the picture of the loss,” she said.
Dan Kidega, the Board Chairman of Atiak Sugar plantation, said the company will soon start sensitizing the community on the benefits of the plantation and also recruit vigilantes to control looming fire outbreaks.
In January 2020, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson gave seven strategic recommendations to avert rampant fire outbreaks in the sugar plantation. They include recruiting a community liaison officer, profiling all workers, building a watchtower, outlawing charcoal burning around the plantation, installing fire breakers, and urgent resolution of workers’ grievances relating to wages. However, most of these suggestions are yet to be implemented.
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