“Don’t panic” - President tells Busoga Sugar cane Growers
President Yoweri Museveni has called on sugar cane growers in Eastern Uganda’s Busoga Sub-Region not to panic because of excess sugar and the commodity’s subsequent falling prices. He assured them of government commitment to resolve the challenge by exploring alternative uses of sugarcane.
“When there is too much production, prices go down and people start panicking. So, what I have come to share with you is: please don’t panic. Excess is good because it also helps us to understand politics better especially that of NRM,” he said.
The President made the remarks yesterday at Jinja State Lodge in Jinja Municipality during a meeting with leaders from Busoga Sub-Region and people that are engaged in sugar cane growing.
President Museveni, who called on sugar cane farmers not to panic unduly as the commodity’s potential is available, added that apart from being in touch with his counterparts from neighboring countries on the issue, the Government of Uganda is also exploring ways of diversifying the use of sugar by ensuring its fine processing to an industrial standard.
He explained that the excess sugar that is talked about is the type known for taking tea only adding that there is need to upgrade the processing of that sugar so that it is used in industries such as in the pharmaceuticals for making syrups and soft drinks, among other products.
Mr. Museveni noted that the by-products of sugar cane can as well be used for making paper, sanitary pads, animal feeds and briquettes adding that petrol can also be extracted out of sugar cane. He reminded the leadership of Busoga Sub-Region and the sugar cane growers that NRM had from the very beginning realized the challenge. That is why, he said, the Movement was totally against sectarianism along tribal and religious leanings and was instead promoting patriotism and Pan Africanism.
“People are panicking. For me, I am happy because this is confirming our NRM politics of Pan Africanism. This business of thinking about tribes will not help us because the market is small,” he observed.
He pointed out that the major problem of African countries, Uganda inclusive, was lack of foresightedness where leaders as well as political parties could not envisage the importance of big markets. He said NRM knew of that challenge and that is why the issue of markets was clearly spelt out in number 9 of the NRM’s 10-Point Programme.
“In 1986, I started talking with Moi and Mwinyi to restore the East African Community. People didn’t know that the market is for the survival of our people. I am glad to see that NRM has woken you up and you are now beginning to see the importance of the market,” he observed.
The President wondered how Europe was always helping African countries with food yet Europeans grow crops only in one season in a year when their other season witnesses only snow; but in Africa and Uganda in particular, there are two harvesting seasons a year that could even give us more harvestings with irrigation, yet famine and poverty are rampant.
He attributed these calamities to people having been in a state of slumber. He was, however, grateful to note that people were now waking up adding: “that is why there is too much production of milk, maize and now sugar and other produce.”
The President was equally grateful to note that the campaign he started in 1995 of ‘Bonna Baggagawale’ (Prosperity for All) was now paying off where wananchi are beginning to take seriously his advice of food and financial security.
“You are very worried; but for me I am very happy because you are now engaged in real wealth creation and by so doing you realize what is needed and that is the market,” he said.
Reacting to concerns by the leaders, President Museveni said the people of the region will get a sugar-cane processing factory just like those in Sororit have one for fruits and the tea factories in Buhweju, Kanungu and Kabale.
On drought, he said the government is to set up a plant for irrigation equipment in Uganda and also to educate farmers not to grow rice in wetlands. He added that people should appreciate and treasure the water bodies the country has got as a store for water that should only be used for irrigation and the grass in swamps be used for mulching.
Mr. Museveni also announced that the government is to set up a fund in each district to support the youth who are required to get organized in groups right from village to district level in aid of their development activities. He revealed that Shs. 100 billion has been earmarked for that exercise.
“We don’t want anybody to remain behind. All the youth must get engaged in some money generating activity,” he stressed.
The President pledged support to a delegation of Busoga sugar cane growers to travel to Malaysia and India for a study tour on how best sugar cane is grown.
In a live evening radio and television address to the people of Busoga Sub-Region and the country at large, President Museveni again reiterated his appeal to the Sub-Region to remain calm and avoid panicking on account of excess sugar and its low prices. He said famine and hunger are in Africa, a continent that leads in depending on alms from Europe, because of the absence of vision.
He said that NRM brought a fundamental change in the country aimed at realigning the thinking of the people for prosperity and development. He added that 2 instruments – Universal Primary and Universal Secondary Education Programme as well as liberalization – were mainly used to realize this goal. He noted that the education programme has helped in raising the literacy rate from 43% in 1986 to 77% today.
He added that the second instrument (liberalization) followed by others like security, infrastructure and democracy ensured total peace in the country.
On sugar cane growing, he called on the people not to panic because the future of the product is bright. He explained that Ugandans use only 1/8 of the total sugar produced for taking tea. He disclosed that sensitization seminars on the values and benefits of sugarcane by-products are already going on in Busoga.