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Cane union drags Kinyara Sugar to court over disruption of operations

MASINDI, June 12, 2024 – Bunyoro Sugarcane Farmers Cooperative Union Limited [BUSFACOU] has run to court seeking a permanent injunction stopping Kinyara Sugar Works Limited from disrupting their operations at the weighbridges installed in Kihande cell, Masindi Municipality, and Rukondwa village in Bikonzi Sub-county.

The application for a permanent injunction follows a court order issued in March this year by the Assistant Registrar Masindi High Court, Juliet Nakitende restraining Victoria Sugar Limited, and BUSFACOU from operating their weighbridges until the main case is disposed off.

In the main case lodged in Masindi High Court, Kinyara Sugar Works Limited accuses BUSFACOU, and Victoria Sugar Limited in Luweero district of allegedly poaching cane from its registered farmers and being weighed at the weighbridges.

Speaking outside court yesterday, Cleophas Bigirwa, BUSFACOU’s treasurer explained that they were compelled to apply for a permanent injunction against Kinyara Sugar Limited over harassing them as well.

According to Bigirwa, BUSFACOU is a registered entity free to conduct business anywhere in Uganda without any limitations since the country is a liberalised economy.

He averred that BUSFACOU only sources unregistered sugarcane from the union members and supply it to Victoria Sugar Limited.

Bigirwa further alleged that Kinyara Sugar Works Limited fears competition since the union pays the farmers promptly in its dealings with Victoria Sugar Limited.

“What is disturbing is that Kinyara Sugar Works Limited thinks that all the sugarcane in the area [Masindi] belongs to them which is not true,” he said.

Assistant Registrar Nakitende has fixed August 21, 2024, as the date she will commence hearing the case and marking of the exhibits.

In April this year, BUSFACOU, and Victoria Sugar Works Limited entered into a memorandum of understanding [MoU], enabling one of the newest sugar manufacturers in the country to buy unregistered cane from the farmers affiliated to the union.

Speaking to theCooperator Muhamudu Kazimbaraine, the Union’s Chairperson explained that non-aided farmers in the area now have market for their cane at a fair price following the signing of the MoU.

He dismissed media reports that the establishment of the weighbridges in the area had escalated cane poaching, noting that BUSFACOU deals with farmers who are not contracted by any sugar company, stating that before the Union and other millers came in, there was a lot of overgrown cane which is not the case now.

“Farmers come to us because we are transparent and we also pay cash on delivery. It’s the farmers who bring their own cane here which they grow without any external support. We are dealing with Victoria Sugar Limited which is offering the farmers better pay. There is no any sugarcane poaching as alleged by some media reports. Whoever is peddling that lie in the press is just dreaming,” noted Kazimbaraine.

Bunyoro sub-region, one of Uganda’s leading sugarcane producers, has four sugar factories including Kinyara Sugar Works Limited, Hoima Sugar Factory, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, and Bwendero Sugar Factory.

Sugarcane poaching implies taking away cane from out-growers supplying a particular factory to other factories and entities elsewhere.

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