Uganda 2013 sugar output seen up 11.5 pct: industry body

Uganda’s raw sugar production is expected to rise 11.5 percent this year, boosted by an increase in overall cane output with more high-yielding varieties, an official of an industry body said in an interview.

Uganda consumes about 350,000 tonnes of raw sugar annually, and the government aims to attract investment into the sector to meet demand, which is forecast by Uganda Sugar Cane Technologists Association (USCTA) to hit 700,000 tonnes by 2030.

Wilberforce Mubiru, secretariat manager at USCTA, said east Africa’s third-largest economy would produce about 322,976 tonnes of sugar in 2013, up from 289,665 tonnes last year.

“All big producers expect their cane supply to increase this year, and they have also been planting better varieties of cane with high sugar content, and they will start harvesting this cane this year,” he said on Wednesday.

Plans to give 7,100 acres of a natural forest to Uganda’s third-biggest producer, Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), to expand its cane estate have stalled after protests from environmentalists.

Conservationists say cutting down the forest to plant cane will disrupt rainfall patterns in the region and could reduce the size of and increase silt in Lake Victoria, which depends on the forest as a rainfall catchment area.

Last year, Uganda’s sugar production fell 11 percent short of forecasts, hurt by harvesting of immature cane and poor weather, which forced major producer Kinyara Sugar Works in western Ugandan to briefly halt production.

Officials say harvesting immature cane results in low sugar yields and depresses output.

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