Mutukula Traders Seek to Takeover Sango-Bay Sugar Estate For Rice Growing

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The Association Chairperson, Hassan Ssekabira argues that the land, which is currently held as a public asset is largely laying idle with no serious commercial activities taking place on it yet they can utilize it to improve their livelihoods as well as generate direct revenue for the government.

The association of rice importers at the Uganda-Tanzania border in Mutukula in Kyotera district is seeking the government’s permission to convert the former Sango-Bay Sugar Estates land into rice fields.

The government owns a sizeable chunk of land measuring 14,000 hectares between Kabira, Kyebe, and Mutukula sub-counties in Kyotera district. The land reverted to the government after the collapse of Sango-Bay Sugar Estates Limited, which was formerly owned by the Asians before their expulsion in 1972.

Now, through their umbrella Rice Agribusiness Development Foundation-RADFO, the traders want to utilize the land for commercial rice farming to spur local production and reduce the country’s dependence on imported rice.  

The Association Chairperson, Hassan Ssekabira argues that the land, which is currently held as a public asset is largely laying idle with no serious commercial activities taking place on it yet they can utilize it to improve their livelihoods as well as generate direct revenue for the government.  

Apparently, the land is being used by residents to cultivate seasonal crops, graze animals while about 400 hectares was allocated to the Uganda People’s Défense Air Force-UPADF brigade for the establishment of a training base for military pilots.   

Ssekabira says that the land can support their dream of promoting local rice production and eventually help the country to reduce the gap between the size of imports and the volume of the exports to countries where they get the rice from. 

According to Ssekabira, on a daily basis, at least 200 12-feet sized trailer trucks of rice enter Uganda through Mutukula border from Tanzania against the very little merchandise that Uganda exports through the same route. 

Speaking at the launch of their Savings and Credit Cooperative Society-SACCO, Ssekabira asked the Ministries of Trade, Industries, and Cooperatives and East African Community Affairs to support their idea by imploring the government to grant them permission to utilize the land.    

Moses Ssekandi, the General Secretary of the Association, says that they have resolved to formally petition the responsible ministry to market their proposal to utilize the land. 

He argues that the Ugandans traders are exploited by middlemen and speculators in the Tanzanian market, which greatly reduces their profit margin when they import rice into the country. 

He says that many of them are gradually being forced out of the trade and asks the government to come up with deliberate interventions to protect them from exploitation.

Agnes Namusiitwa, the Kyotera District LC V chairperson has indicated their support for the proposal by the rice importers to convert the former sugar estates into rice farms, saying the idea works towards the promotion of local trade. 

She says that as leaders, they are going to advance the proposal through the Minister of Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze and his East African Community Affairs counterpart, Rebecca Kadaga to raise it before the cabinet for consideration. 

Source:URN

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