Raw sugar production by Uganda’s three main processors fell 14 per cent in the first half of the year versus a similar period last year hurt by a shortage of mature cane, an industry official told Reuters on Wednesday.
The East African country has a small but thriving sugar production sector mostly dominated by the three producers - Kakira Sugar Works, Sugar Corporation of Uganda Ltd and Kinyara Sugar Works.
Full-year output from the three is seen reaching 330,000 tonnes, down from last year’s 341,879 tonnes.
Wilberforce Mubiru, secretariat manager at industry body Uganda Sugar Manufacturers’ Association (USMA) told Reuters the three plants produced 154,501 tonnes in the first six months of 2016.
In the same period last year the three processors produced 178,761 tonnes of raw sugar.
Mubiru said the decline in production was due to the “unavailability of mature cane for milling”.
Each of the three big producers typically owns a large nucleus estate which accounts for the bulk of the cane supply but is usually surrounded by communities of outgrower farmers contracted to supplement supplies of the raw material.
Mubiru said eight new smaller processors who lacked a nucleus estate or outgrower schemes of their own were “poaching” on cane supplies of the three large plants and causing a shortage of the raw cane.
Combined production from all the smaller producers this year is likely to reach 100,000 tonnes which could push Uganda’s overall output to 430,000 tonnes, Mubiru said.
Uganda’s consumption of raw sugar this year is projected at 370,000 tonnes and the government has said it is keen to attract investment into the sector to meet growing demand, which is forecast by USCTA to hit 700,000 tonnes by 2030.