By Sylvia Kirungi
Residents of Kizirafumbi Sub County in Kikuube distrct have petitioned the district authorities over increased uptake of sugarcane growing which they say poses a threat food security in the near future.
The residents through Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association (BUSUCA)- a community based organization working in the district on environmental conservation, improvement of food security and protecting human rights, raised an alarm that the residents with small pieces of land have resorted to sugarcane growing ignoring need to grow food crops.
Rev. Fred Musimenta, the BUSUCA Chairperson says due to the existence of Hoima Sugar Company in the district, the local people in sugarcane catchment areas have resorted to leasing out land to investors and out growers for sugarcane production leaving them with no land for food production.
“Sugarcane business is mainly dominated by men and this has affected women’s access to land for food production leading to food insecurity. Men, who are mainly the land owners, have resorted to leasing out land, leaving their families in jeopardy of what to eat. Women are mainly affected due to their traditional roles of providing food for the families. Their livelihoods also largely depend on farming yet land ownership is limited. We have registered many cases of gender based violence resulting from food insecurity and poverty among couples due to sugarcane growing,” the petition reads part.
According to the petition, they have been supported by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) to improve food security and income at household level but their efforts are being frustrated by some land owners who use their small pieces of land to grow sugarcane leaving their wives and children to suffer with food insecurity.
In a petition dated 23rd October and addressed to the district leadership, the residents want Kikuube District Council to pass an ordinance to regulate growing of sugarcane in order to protect residents from food security.
They also call upon the leaders to prohibit farmers with small pieces of land from growing sugarcane in favor of food crop production.
Meanwhile, Vincent Opio Alpha, the Kikuube district Vice Chairperson acknowledges that sugarcane growing is becoming a threat to the district.
He said the sugarcane growing by Hoima sugar limited has not only affected food security but also destroyed the roads and causing accidents while being transported to the factory.
Opio said they plan to pass an ordinance to limit sugarcane growing to farmers who have 5 acres and above since according to him, it is not economically viable too.
“We are aware that sugarcane growing is becoming a problem. We already have a bill on paper and soon it will be tabled before council. We want to ensure that farmers who are growing sugarcane have 5 acres and above,” said Opio.