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Masindi sugarcane farmers divided over new cane price

Three board members of Masindi Sugarcane Growers’ Association Ltd (MASGAL) have resigned from their positions citing what they termed “false accusations” levelled against them by the association’s Chairperson, Cosmas Byaruhanga.

The three are all members of the board’s working committee, and they include Board Chairperson Amos Musindi, Board Treasurer Jane Asiimwe and Simon Alira-lulu. They announced their resignation at a press conference at Kolping hotel in Masindi town last week.

The trio allege that Byaruhanga accused them of determining the sugarcane price for the 2020/2021 financial year with Kinyara Sugar Limited, without the other board members’ consent.

Simon Alira, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved members, said that Byaruhanga made the accusations in Kikuube village, Bwijanga Sub County, on 5th July this year.

“These allegations amount to character assassination against us since the sugarcane price is not determined by this subcommittee without the other six board members of MASGAL.”

However Byaruhanga, who is also the Chairperson LC V, Masindi district denied the accusations levelled against him, saying he has not addressed cane farmers in Kikuube as they allege.

Nevertheless, he insists that he received reports that the three met Kinyara Sugar management in February, and shared that information with the Chairperson, Eastern sugarcane zone, Mary Munjumbura and other members.

“How could the three members go to Kinyara to negotiate the price?” he wondered, and referred to their resignation as a sign of defeat.

 “Their resignation means they have conceded defeat and are guilty,” said the tough-talking chairman.

For his part, Ravi Ramalingham, the General Manager, Kinyara Sugar Limited, has distanced himself from the accusations being levelled against the three who resigned, noting that the MASGAL members are simply contradicting one another.

Ravi says that when they (Kinyara) announced the new price, the RDC called them in his office, and many MASGAL members were in attendance, including their chairperson Cosmas Byaruhanga.

Byaruhanga appealed to sugarcane farmers to be patient and assured them of the board’s commitment to ensure that Kinyara offers them a better price for this financial year.

The internal squabbles come at a time when the MASGAL board has rejected the new Shs 91,586 per tonne price recently set by Kinyara Sugar for the current financial year.

Since Kinyara announced the new price at the beginning of this month, association members have been clashing over it, with some accused of participating in the determining the new price.

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