August 16—President Yoweri Museveni has chaired a meeting of political, religious and cultural leaders from Acholi sub-region to get approval for Madhvani Group to set up a new $100 million sugar manufacturing complex in Amuru District, northern Uganda.
According to Betty Amongi, the Minister of Lands Housing and Urban Development, the decision was reached during talks held early this week. The President received assurances from all the parties that the project had their blessings, including permission for surveying to begin.
Amuru’s mostly flat terrain and rainfall patterns have been deemed suitable for sugar cane growing. Amongi said participants understood the economic benefit of the project in creating employment for the youth and adding value to the locally grown sugar cane. It was agreed fighting the project would just keep the local people in continued poverty.
Total annual sugar production in Uganda is currently well above 400,000 tonnes with consumption at about 350,000 but still rising.
A plan to develop a sugar industry in Amuru first cropped up eight years ago when Madhvani Group mooted a desire to buy or lease land. In 2009, Kakira Sugar Factory officials said the proposed Amuru factory would directly employ 7,000 workers and 5,000 sugarcane out-growers, but these figures are bound to be revised. The project has been a source of endless controversy taking in differing parties, but Museveni has been consistent in his support for the Madhvani project
Two years ago, a deal was signed between the government and the Lamogi community of Lamogi Sub-County of Kilak County in Amuru district to withdraw a pending case in the Court of Appeal blocking Madhvani Group. As a witness to the deal, Museveni said, “What is the use of clan land if you can’t use it to generate income for the good of the clan members? Land is for production not for settlement and mere prestige. Our clans have had land over centuries amidst poverty and this can’t go on like this.”