Uganda sugar producer says to double output by 2015

Uganda’s third largest sugar producer, Sugar Corporation of Uganda Ltd. (SCOUL), aims to double its output by 2015 after securing a $23 million loan from a French financing firm, it said on Wednesday.

East Africa’s third largest economy forecasts its production of raw sugar will soar by 26 percent this year to 327,075 tonnes from 2011’s 259,413 tonnes, lifted by favourable weather and higher cane supplies.

Patrick Dikusoka, SCOUL’s general manager, said the loan from Proparco would finance a programme that will expand the firm’s nucleus sugarcane estate and contract farmers’ acreage.

“With this loan from Proparco we’re looking at doubling our sugar production from the current 50,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes by 2015,” he said.

“Right now we have 10,000 acres for our core estate and we would want to increase it substantially to support our new ambitious output programme,” he said.

Plans by the sugar producer to expand its output were thwarted in 2007 when environmentalists protested against its proposals to acquire 7,100 acres of a pristine natural forest.

Environmentalists say clearing the forest to plant canes will expose Lake Victoria to silting, disrupt rainfall patterns in the region and put agricultural activity at risk.

Uganda consumes about 350,000 tonnes of sugar, which could jump to 700,000 tonnes by 2030, according to industry body Uganda Sugarcane Technologists Association (USCTA).

Dikusoka said the company was generating a small amount of electricity to power its plant from sugarcane residues.

“However we’re intent on using part of the loan to add 6 megawatts which we’ll sell to the national grid,” he said

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