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12/12/2014

TamingtheeconomicsofsugarplantingthatarethreateningsecurityinBusogasubregionUgandaPoliceForce

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Tamingtheeconomicsofsugarplantingthatarethreatening
securityinBusogasubregion
PublishedDecember1,2014

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Amidfearsthatexcessivesugarcaneplantingwhichisalreadyathreattofoodsecurityisgradually
turningintoarealsecurityissueinBusogasubregion,thePolice,districtandlocalcouncilleaders
havesteppeduppreventivecommunitypolicingactivitiesinthearea.
ThedistrictcouncilofJinjaisintheprocessofenactinganordinancetocontrolthespreadof
commercialsugarcaneplantingthatisthreateningtoengulfthewholeofBusogaintheforeseeable
future.Thenewordinance,expectedtocomeintoforcebeforetheendofthisyear,includesanoutright
banonplantingcaneonfamilylandholdingsthatonlymeasuretwoorlessacres.
Fortheirpart,Policehaveintensifiedcontactwiththefarmers,landowners,andLCs.ActingasDPC
duringOctober,SSPGeorgeKalamuexplainedthatpartoftheproblemwasrootedinthecultureof
mobjusticesoprevalentintheregion.Puttogetherwiththechangingeconomicsetupcangivean
explosivemix.
MrKalamusaidthatpeasantshaveoverthepastfewyearsbeenhiringouttheirlandatanaverage
sh500,000peracretocommercialcanegrowerstoproduceforanagreedthreecuttings.
Thismoneyisimmediatelyuseduponexpenseslikeschoolfees,domesticconsumptionoreven
pleasure,saidthepoliceofficer.Thenitdawnsonthelandownersthattheagreedthreecuttingswill
lastatleastfouryearsormore,allofwhichtimetheycannothaveaccesstotheirland.
Thefirstcuttingcomesaftersometwoyearsandthesubsequentcuttingstakeayearorslightlylonger,
dependingonthesoilfertilityandrain.
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Whenthisrealizationsinksin,peasantswhoownthelandconsidertakingseveraloptions,mostof
themillegal.Themostindirectoneistogothroughtheirchildrenorwivestolodgeacomplaintagainst
theheadofthehouseholdjointlywiththecommercialfarmer,tellingtheauthoritiesthattheyarebeing
deprivedoftheirverysourceoflivelihoodwithouttheirconsent.Butthecommercialfarmerstendto
standtheirground,armedwiththesignedagreementthatgavethemaccesstothelandforthree
cuttings.
Inothercases,evenwhenthelandownersrespectstheagreement,manyofthembeingoldhappento
diebeforealltheagreedcuttingshavetakenplace.MrKalamusaysthatthechildrentendtocontestor
disregardtheagreementandtrytokeepthecommercialgrowersofthefarmsaccusingthemofstealing
theirland.Thishappeningbeforetheyhavedonealltheirharvests,thegrowersgetaggrievedand
conflictsarise.
Anotherotherillegaloption,whichtendstoleadtoviolence,isthelandownertostartharvestingthe
caneillegally.Theycandothiswhenthecaneattainsmaturitybutbeforethecanefarmerisclearedto
supplyatthefactory.Inarathercomplicatedprocessmeanttoensureorderlinessatthefactories,
registeredoutgrowersaregivensupplypermitswhichindicatetheamountstheycansupplytothe
factoryatgiventimesintheirsupplycontract.Butittranspiresthatsomefactoryinsidershavebeen
commodifyingthepermitsandhelpspeculatorstoacquirethem.Whileotherdealersbuypermitsfrom
thespeculatorstosupply,permitholdingcommercialgrowersarewaitingfortheirturnastheirmature
canewaitsinthegarden.Thisiswhenthelandownerswhoarealwaysonthegroundstealthecaneand
sellit(cheaply)tonongrowerswhohavepermits.Therealownerswhoplantedthecaneknowthatthe
thievescouldnotbeoutsidersandaremostlikelythelandownerswhosoldthemtherightstoplantand
harvest.Thatiswhenseriousconflictsarise.
Insomecasesfrustratedplantersjustsetthecaneinwhichtheyinvestedsoheavilyonfire,says
ChristineNagawoya,theOCCIDforKakira.Shehassometimesencounteredmoremurkydealings
whereanimpatientlandownerhiresoutthesameplottotwoinvestors.Thefirstinvestorplantsthe
caneandmaymanagetomakethefirstharvestwithouttrouble.Butbeforethesecondorthirdcutting,
thelandownercanofferthecanetoanotherbuyer,sayingitishisbutheneedstoliquidateduetosome
reasons.Itsuchcasesofbetrayalthatsometimesdrivethegenuineownersofthecanetosetcommit
arson.Thisleavesthesecondbuyerdemandingarefundfromtheseller,whoisunableandunwillingto
pay,furtherexacerbatingtheconflictsituations.
ASPMuhindowhoisOfficerinChargeofKakiraPoliceStationhasbeendeployingallhisstaffto
carryoutcommunitypolicingsensitization,startingwiththemostaffectedsubcountryofBusedde.
TheMwangazateamthattouredBusedderecentlytalkedtodozensofcanegrowers,allofwhom
expressedconcernatthetendencyofthelandownerstochangegoalpostsbeforetheexpiryofthe
agreeddurationoftheagreements.TheyalsoblamedtheLCswhousuallywitnesstheagreementsfor
notsupportingthemwhenthelandownersturnagainstthem.
AccordingtoSSPKalamu,PoliceisincessantlyremindingtheLCstoscrutinizethelandrentingdeals
beforeendorsingthem.AccordingtotheguidelinesbeinggiventoLCs,policeadvisesthemtofirst
ensurethepersonhiringoutthelandtocanegrowershasotherlandonwhichtogrowfoodbefore
allowingthedealtoproceed.Intheabsenceofmorelandforfoodgrowing,thepersonshouldatleast
haveanotherverifiablesourceofincomewhichcanfeedhisfamily.Policeisalsoinsistingthatthe
LCsshouldinvolvethespousesinthelanddealsinordertosecureconsentofthefamilyandprevent
futureclaimsofbeingdeprivedoftheland.
ManymeninBusogaseemnottobeawareoftherightsofwomenandgirlswhentheyaretransacting
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onfamilyland,observestheofficer.Theyonlyfindoutwhenthedisputesareincourt.Sowefind
ourselvesdoingalotofeducationoversuchmattersthesedays.
WehavebeensensitizingtheLCsthatbeforeyoustampthoseagreements,makesureyouractions
willnotenduppromotinginsecurity,theofficerwenton.Andallthepolicedepartmentalheadsin
theregion,OCsandCommunityLiasonOfficersaregivingoutthesamemessagetoLCsandpeasants
besureofthevalueofthelandbeforeyouhireitoutforsugarcaneplanting.
Whilethelandownersnowclaimsh500,000peracreforthreecuttingsistoolittle,thecaneinvestors
sayitjustrightbecauseanacreinaplacelikeBuseddeonlyyileds30to40tonsonthefirstcuttingand
thisfallstohalfonthesecondcutting,decliningfurthertotenorlesstonsonthethirdcutting.Atonof
canefetchedaboutsh80,000atthefactory,andthegrowerssaythespendalotofmoneyonpreparing
thelandandmaintainingthecanebeforeitreachesmaturity,nottomentionthetransportcostsof
takingittothefactory.
InBuseddewhichishardesthitbythesugarculture,thereareover10,000differentsugarcanefarms,
somemeasuringonlyoneacre.
TheBusogasubregioncoversthedistrictsofJinja,Kamuli,Buyende,Kaliro,Luuka,Iganda,Mayuge,
Bugiri,NamutumbaandNamayingo.Inmanysubcounties,caneplantingistakingupnearlyhalfof
theland.Thisisaffectingthesocialorderadversely,asmanyboysareabandoningschooltosellcasual
labourascanecuttersforquickmoney.
Andmanygirlsinthesubregionarejoiningtheprostitutiontradeataratherearlyageduetothe
demandforsuchservicesbythemanycasualworkers.Demandisalsofuelledbythedriversandturn
boysinthebigsugartransportingindustry.AtKakiraSugarworksalone,thereareover1,200privately
ownedtrucksfortransportingcane.
WeareapproachingasituationwhereeverydistrictinBusogawillhaveasugarfactory,warnedSSP
Kalamu.
SugarfactoriesarealreadyoperatinginthedistrictsofJinja,Kaliro,MayugeandKamuli,inadditionto
othersnearbyjustoutsideBusogalikeLugazi,Kayanja.Moreover,thereothersugarcanebuyerswho
producemolassesandthosewhodistillliquorfromcaneandarenotinthesugarrefinerybusiness.
Busogaleadersareworkinghandinhandwiththepoliceandadministrationtocurbcrimethatisbeing
occasionedbythesugarplantingculture.TheJinjaDistrictSecretaryforProductionMrsAnnetMusike
toldMwangazathatinsecurityisalreadyaseriousreality.
Pangasaregettingincreasinglyusedovercanedisputesasownersoflandrealizetheycannolonger
accessit,shesaid.Theftoffoodhasalsoincreasedinthearea.
Shesaidthatalready,localcouncilsareoverwhelmedbycasesofwomenreportingfamilyandchild
neglectarisingoutofcaneplantingthathastakenovermuchofthefamilylands.
Thesecretarycannotwaitforthebylawthatwilloutlawtheplantingofcaneonholdingsmeasuring
onlyorlessthantwoacres.Penaltiesenvisagedintheordinanceincludecommunitywork,buteven
corporalpunishmenthasbeendiscussed.
Theolderoperatorsinthesugarrefinerybusinessarealsolendingahandinenhancingthefood
securityintheirareasofoperation.Kakirasugarworkshasforinstanceembarkedonavigorous
diversificationdrive,teachingandhelpingfarmerstointercropyoungcanewithhighvaluecropslike
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TamingtheeconomicsofsugarplantingthatarethreateningsecurityinBusogasubregionUgandaPoliceForce

soyaandmarketablevegetables.Initsseveraldemostrationplotsinthesubregion,KSLisshowingthe
farmershowtoevenmakeaclearprofitfromthelotsoflandlongbeforethecanematures.Thereis
alsoaprojectpromotingdiaryfarmingbyKSL.

Workerscuttingcaneina Policeconstablestakeoff Trucksawaitofflaoding


MrKalamubriefing
sugargardeninBusoga onIgangaRoadfrom atasugarfactoryoutside Mwangazaaboutefforts
Jinjatogoandsensitise
Jinja
tosensitisepeasantsand
pesantsonthevalueof
LCsonlanddealingsfor
land
sugarplanting

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