Uganda: Acholi Sub-Region Smiles As It Finally Gets Factories Which Will Boost Household Incomes, Kudos to UDC & UDB

Gulu University has come in to save mangoes in Acholi from rotting
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Mangos rotting in Gulu because of lack of markets, and Gulu University has stepped in to solve it.

“Our mandate is to operate as Uganda’s Development Finance institution, particularly through interventions in priority sectors and in line with the Government of Uganda’s development priorities”

Gulu-Uganda: In October 2020, President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni visited Acholi sub-region and went up north to a Sugar factory being established in Attiak Sub-County in Amuru district by Horyal Investment Holding Company Limited along Uganda- South Sudan border.

The company had just secured a deal with Uganda government where government injected UGX 8 billion (about US$ 2.2 million) in subsidy through revived Uganda Development Corporation, an investment arm of government. Government owns 40% share in this factory.

Museveni was already in the campaign trail for his re-election for a sixth consecutive uninterrupted stewardship. This trip was to demonstrate that his government wants all regions to develop equitably without any region lagging behind. He went to Attiak Sugar Factory to commission a brand new State-of-the- Art Factory which is capable of crushing 1650 metric tons of cane per day to increase sugar supply in the readily available in the local and regional markets. This factory can produce 66,000 tons of sugar per year.

The Chief Executive Officer of Horyal Investment Holding is Ms Amina Hersi Moghe, a Kenyan national of Somali origin, whose father was among the top financiers of Museveni’s five year bush war during his struggle to overthrow Dr. Obote, from February 06, 1981 to January 26, 1986. The factory is therefore seen as a ‘thank you project’ for the support the family gave him while still struggling to lead the country. Other observers believe that Ms Amina runs the business as a proxy but the real owner is actually Mr. Museveni.

The by-products from the company will include molasses, bagasse to produce ethanol and 6 MW of electricity for both own consumption and sale to the National grid.

This factory was established in March 2016 targeting to controversially acquire 13, 8421 acres of land for out-growers scheme in Attiak in this region where land fragmentation is the norm of the day used just for food production and where large commercial farming is alien to them. The company also teamed up with Ayuu Lalali cultural institution in Lamwo district and acquired additional 15,000 acres of land for out growers for sugarcane plantation.

It took so many years for the first sugar to come out of this factory because of three major challenges and setbacks; notably land conflicts at initiation stage and later frequent fire outbreaks during dry season which destroys mature canes which would have fed the factory; and poor relationship with neighboring communities which seems not to have welcomed Amina among them. The frequent fire outbreaks can be attributed to the third setback.

As a result of this challenge of frequent fire outbreaks which causes lack of sufficient cane to feed the factory, Ms. Amina got a deal with the Greater Busoga Sugar Cane Growers Co-operative Union, after Kenya refused to take more canes from Busoga and they began to supply the factory with sugar cane, triggering the first mass production of ‘Attiak Sugar’.

The funds from UDC enabled the factory to buy 51, 486 tons to mature cane from Busoga by the time production began thereby attracting the attention of President Museveni. It employs at least 3,500 workers, both in the factory and in the farms, empowering at least 12,000 households mostly war returnee and women-led households.

It was also important for Mr. Museveni to visit Attiak Sugar factory because it would bring the much needed foreign exchange, at this time of COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on world economies, Uganda inclusive by exporting is sugar to nearby Juba ready Market since it lies along the common border of the two countries unlike Kakira or Kinyala sugar factories which are far away. The cost of transporting Attiak Sugar to nearby Juba market would be less.

There is also other multiplier effect of the company; it saw the birth of three cooperative societies with 12,000 members in the region. There is Attiak Sugarcane Plantation Out-Growers Co-operative Society Limited, Gem Pacilo Farmers’ Co-operative Society Limited and Ayuu Alali Sugarcane Out-growers’ Co-operative Society Limited.

This factory has the largest number of hectares for production than other companies producing sugar but its biggest challenge, which if addressed, will see it to increase its production five-fold. Currently it is using rudimentary subsistence farming method where it is using intensive manual labor force instead of modern mechanized farming method where machines are deployed.

Other industries which has sprung up in the region includes two cassava processing factories. We now have Bukona Agro Processors Limited in Nwoya district which received UGX 11.96 billion (about US$ 3,285,714 million) from Uganda government for working capital, purchase of more machines and purchase of cassava chips from farmers in the region.

The initial purpose of the factory was as alcohol factory, but since the corona-virus lockdown of 2020, it has been producing sanitizers but with the funding from government it is set to produce ethanol instead of alcohol among other products.

Another factory, which is an initiative of the Arch Diocese of Gulu of the Catholic Church, is the Acholibur Parish’s soon to be established first ‘starch factory’ in the Greater Acholi region. Feasibility studies have been done but the next stage is securing the UGX 18 billion (about US$ 4,945,055 million) funds needed for the purchase of the first starch factory in the region.

That is not all. There are several grain milling machines like Opit Millers in Gulu City which are adding value to what farmers produce, thereby increasing income to small holder farmers and improving food and nutrition security.

In the grain sector however, government has identified two companies; Afro Kai and Aponye (U) Limited for support with UGX 200 billion (about US$ 54,945,054 million) as working capital, debt refinancing and acquisition of value addition equipment and facilities; and addressing the challenge of aflotoxin, trade in grains and advancement of industrialization agenda as envisaged in the third National Development Plan.

Gulu University also recently acquired a truck for processing mangoes, which usually rot in the region, produce mango juice for local market instead of bringing mango juice from Soroti or Kampala. Recently the University said they will traverse the region during harvest reasons to buy mangos from farmers.

Uganda Development Bank, whose purpose statement reads; “To improve the Quality of Life of Ugandans” focuses its support priority sectors as agriculture, industries, human capital development, infrastructures and tourism.

“Our mandate is to operate as Uganda’s Development Finance institution, particularly through interventions in priority sectors and in line with the Government of Uganda’s development priorities”, says Uganda Development Bank.

At last, the region which underwent through most horrific Lord’s Resistance Army war for over twenty years have all the reasons to smile now. The foodstuff they produce for sale is always regarded as of low grade and is bought at a cheaper rate than the same products from other regions.

A recently released Uganda Bureau of Statistic report indicates that poverty rate of Northern Uganda stands at 21.8%, the highest of the four regions. Eastern region registered 36.6%, Western region is 4.9% while Central has only 0.5%. However, when it comes to eating three meals per day, Northern complies more than all the other regions with 60.3% of the population eating three meals in a day. The least region is Eastern region where only 36.6% eat three meals in a day. Western region comes after Northern region with 49.2 % while Central comes third with 41.2%.

Talk of the dividend of a peaceful environment for work!

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