Uganda’s sugar exports have increased after a huge drop in July.
According to the country’s central bank, Uganda’s sugar exports for the month of July suffered a 58% decline due to scarcity of cane.
However, this shipment of sugar is only a fraction of the volumes going out to south Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda.
According to the Bank of Uganda, the country’s sugar export volumes dropped to 16,000 tonnes in July; down from over 27,000 tonnes in June.
Sugarcane trucks at factories But factories find they’re struggling to get hold of the supplies of sugarcane they usually need.
"The economy has opened, and consumption has gone high but the supply of sugarcane is less because people did not plant in 2020, 2019 and 2021. It is a perennial crop, which takes 16-18 months. It takes time." Robert Olego, Senior Manager Outgrowers, Sugar Corporation Uganda Limited said
Fluctuating prices, mounting expenses and even debts have also forced sugarcane farmers to abandon their farms.
Muyimba Yawe is one of the few in the Busoga region in the central part of Uganda that is still in the plantations. He said, "When the prices kept changing, many farmers lost hope, especially those that had joined specifically to make money. For some of us, this has been our livelihood for years."
Muyimba's persistence is paying off. Since this year, sugarcane prices have increased from 25 dollars a tonne to at least double the amount now. And in August, sugar exports increased to 20 million dollars, compared to 12 million dollars in July.
With the current price, it could give good returns for Ezekiel Kato who has already planted new cane. He however wants more to be done for the farmers.
Sugarcane farmers' Fertilizers are expensive, the pesticides, land hire are all expensive. The prices may be fair but our policymakers still need to look more into our issues. Ezekiel Kato.
Despite the desired demand to increase sugar for export, there is also not enough for local consumption. That has forced prices of sugar on shop shelves to go up.
Millers claim though, this will only be for the short term.