Members of Parliament have asked Government to go slow on the proposed zoning of sugar factories, saying it will hurt out growers and the sugar industry.
The parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry included zoning in the Sugar Bill 2016 after it was returned by the president. Museveni argued that the absence of zoning in the bill would hurt the sugar industry.
The Sugar Bill is meant to ensure that there is a sustainable, diversified, harmonized, modern and competitive sugar sector to meet domestic, regional and International sugar requirements.
However, a number of MPs says the zoning will benefit sugar companies at the expense of cane out growers. Jalia Bintu, the Masindi Woman MP, says cane out growers were never consulted on the matter before the proposal was included in the bill.
She says the cane out growers wrote asking to appear before the committee but were ignored, adding that zoning should be left out of the bill because it will promote exploitation.
Bernard Atiku, the Ayivu county MP says cane out growers are worried that their concerns have not been addressed. He however, notes that if handled well, zoning could be a good thing.
Anne Mary Tumwine, the Ntoroko Woman MP, says zoning is okay as long as the interests of out growers are met.
Edward Makmot Otto, the Agago County MP says zoning puts organization in the sugar industry. He says since the sugar companies invested money initially in the out growers, they should benefit from zoning.
Initially, sugar companies funded an out-grower system where a company gives out-growers seeds and fertilizers in return for the canes.
This led to the domination of sugar territories by big companies, while the small and new companies struggled to get supply, leading to a number of challenges including sugar cane poaching and price competition.