Amuru Land Grab: The Legacy of Atiak Sugar Factory

Today on the 23rd October 2020 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni commissioned Atiak Sugar Factory. This is not without consequences. The industrial enterprise has cost two thousands citizens their lands.

It has been years since the 11th December 2014. There been reports that the Madhvani Group have used land for big sugar-cane plantations, which are the producers for the Atiak Factory. This has been the reason for the land grabbing and forced evictions of the Acholi. The Madhvani Group established their Amuru Sugar Works who was getting 40,000 hectares of land.

The state will proclaim the amount of people working there and families, which is supposed to participating in the enterprise. They are only proclaiming the great things. However, not telling the costs in Amuru district or amount of forced evictions. Neither, addressing the bailouts of the investor. Who is behind the Sugar Factory either.

Today, that should not be forgotten. People have died in protests over the years. There been naked protests and MPs arrested over this. Therefore, the Atiak Sugar Factory has created issues. These should not be forgotten in the starting of production at the factory.

The factory is partly owned by the state and Horyal Investment Holdings Company Limited. Atiak Sugar factory located in Gem Farm, Atiak sub-county, Kilak County, in Amuru District. In Okidi North there are residents who said their was kicked out by the building of the factory and the land. The total of people in articles mentioned is about 80 people. As the Atiak Factory and its estate covers about 16,000 hectares of land. There been speculation of about 80 people thrown out of their lands needing redress for losing their land.

Therefore, there are plenty of scandals in the building of this factory. That they didn’t clear the legalities before the Madhvani Group or Horyal Investment Holdings got their land. This should have been fixed before the citizens was thrown away from their land without any compensation becoming Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in camps. That has happen in this regard, but the President only wants to praise for the industrial enterprise itself.

This factory needs to be remembered for all the folks who lost their land by the state and foreign investors who got it. Because, this wasn’t just a small token and building a factory somewhere. No, this was forcing an industry into an area. Bailing out an investor (Horyal) at least once, maybe twice in the years since 2016. Also, giving land cheaply to Madhvani Group to produce sugar-cane. Therefore, this isn’t a success, but a depressing move into modernity and producing of sugar.

It isn’t sweet, but it is instead bitter. Peace.

Uganda Wildlife Authority letter to All Residents of Adjumani District – “Re: Shifting of Apaa Market to Zoka Centre” (10.04.2019)

Press Statement by the Acholi Parliamentary Group: On the Issue of Land in Acholi Sub Region (28.02.2019)

Statement to Parliament on the Situation in Apaa Parish, Adjumani District by the Minister of Internal Affairs (05.0.2019)

Solidarity March against the Apaa Land Grab in Gulu today: It was shutdown by the Police!

Today, there was held an demonstration in Gulu town for the land evictions happing in Apaa village. This is a planned land grab by the authorities dating back to 2006. As the land in Amuru have been given to Madhvani Group to the planned Kakira Sugar Factory there. Therefore, these evictions have been planned for decades.

That why I rewrite this again: The Amuru Land Grab: What is ours, is OURS; What is their’s, is OURS; and Whatever is your’s, is still OURS.

Here is today’s reports:

SOLIDARITY MARCH Monday 4th February: Apaa Monitor has received information that a demonstration is taking place tomorrow at 8am, departing from Ker Kwaro Acholi head quarters in Gulu, in solidarity with those who are suffering in Apaa, and to denounce the atrocities that have taken place there. 8am, Ker Kwaro Acholi, Gang ker ma dit” (Apaa Monitor, 03.02.2019).

Acholi MPs; Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya, Kilak North MP Anthony Akol and Aruu North MP Odongo Otto arrested over Apaa land demo. They were detained at Gulu Central Police Station for holding an illegal demonstration” (Edge.ug, 04.02.2019).

He we see again, that the public, the Members of Parliament and others are not allowed to address or voice out their grievances. This is currently very normal. Even if the people behind or organizing the demonstration had notified the authorities about their planned demonstration. The Police might still stop it or even bar it from happen.

They might have all the papers right, but still the police would come all out, because it doesn’t matter, even if they did follow the Public Order Management Act (POMA). The Police could still deem it illegal, as they didn’t notify correctly or “incited violence” breaking the penal code.

This is very common, therefore, I have a hard time believing this rally/demonstration was illegal. If it was, they did it this way. Because the MPs and the ones behind it, knew the authorities never would get it accepted. Since, the Apaa Land Grab is an accepted deal between the State and Madhvani Group since 2006. Therefore, the President would be humiliated and the Police Force cannot accept that. Peace.

President Museveni letter to PM Ruhakana Rugunda – “Re: Existence of a “Sugar Board” in Kampala” (19.08.2018)

Amuru Land Grab – Apaa Village Evictions: A long process of failure from the state!

That the Northern Uganda have been in deep end of the stick in many eyes is evident, by how lax the state has been to take care of their needs and their rights. That can now be proven by the forceful evictions from land in Apaa Village in Amuru District/Adjumani District. Where the previously have been attempts to make a giant farm for an investor called Bruce Martin and also become sugar cane plantations and factory for Kakira Sugar Factory owned by the Madhvani Group, this goes all the way back to 2006. Therefore, the plans to evict these people has been slow process from the state.

Now in 2018, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) have evicted dozens upon dozens of the local residents from their lands. As the purge on the village and the area continues, this has been in the making, but the ones losing their lands get nothing, but lose their homes and their livelihoods at the same time. The government authorities have torched the houses and left nothing behind, as they are continuing to evict people. Their lives are no meaningless, as they have to flee their land and are living on the United Nations Compound in Gulu, while awaiting their future, as the state, UWA and the Uganda People’s Defence Force have been evicting them over the last two months. Surely, the hurt is felt and real.

Who can wonder if the state is finalizing the agreement with Madhvani Group to deliver his second sugar factory and also sugar plantation in the area or they are making a game drive from Bruce Martin. However, this is still grabbing the land without any forewarning and also taking their livelihoods without any compensation for the hurt.

The District Land Board and Area Land Board cannot been informed or care to inform the people, as the army and UWA have been busy evicting people with force. They are just pawns on the chess-set, and the authorities in Kampala let it happen. The leadership from afar are accepting it and have gazetted the land and taken the land. Therefore, the people who has settled in Apaa have to flee or be evicted from the land, without any justice or law helping them out. No compensation and nothing left for them.

This sort of play has to stop; I am sure the State House is fully aware and let it happen, as they are getting their cut of the transaction of the land for whatever purposes it has. Its been planned for years, but doesn’t make it better, when they could have had solutions back-in-the-day as the government knew this would come. They were already in talks with both Kakira and with Martin. They knew perfectly well, what was up. There is even a third scenario where the land is sold to someone else named Linton Brimblecombe.

Clearly someone forgot the memo and left it stranded. They just evicting people in the favour of one lucky bastard who capture all lands, without paying the needed ones who was actually living their and done so for generations. This is a violation of the trust between the citizens and the government. Because someone accepted the trade of the land people where living on and had rights too.

The Apaa village and Apaa community deserves better, all of the Acholi deserves better. They are being misused and taken for granted by the government. They are just pawns on the chess-set. No value, the first one in the battle-line to take out so the ones of value can be put into play. That is how it looks from the outside.

This have been planned for decades and now it happens.

Amuru Land Grab: What is ours, is OURS; What is their’s, is OURS; and Whatever is your’s, is still OURS. Peace.

Kakira Sugar Limited addressing farmers strike (02.07.2018)

Mzee complains today about waste, however he haven’t rehabilitated sugar industry or revamped pharmaceutical industry either!

“In this regard, we need to learn and apply lessons from emerging economies such as India, whose total healthcare industry revenue is expected to increase from US$ 110 billion in 2016 to US$ 372 billion in 2022 in response to deliberate investments in telemedicine, manufacturing of medicines and health technologies, medical tourism, health workforce training and risk pooling/health insurance, among others. In order to achieve this, we need to plan in a harmonized way. In Uganda, for instance, we, indeed, have a nascent pharmaceutical industry producing Aids/HIV, Malaria, Hepatitis-B, pharmaceuticals, etc. drugs. These are, however, still using imported pharmaceutical grade starch and imported pharmaceutical grade sugar. The pharmaceutical grade starch and sugar are crucial for making tablets and syrups for children’s medicines. Yet, the starch is from maize and cassava and the pharmaceutical grade sugar is from sugar. I am told the drugs would be 20% cheaper. Moreover, apart from helping in the pharmaceutical industry, more refined sugar is also needed in the soft drinks industry. Uganda is squandering US$34 million per year importing refined sugar for the soft drinks, about US$ 20 million for importing the pharmaceutical grade starches not including the other raw materials, US$ 77million for taking patients to India etc. Africa is incredibly rich but wasteful” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE JOINT EAC HEADS OF STATE RETREAT ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND HEALTH FINANCING AND DEVELOPMENT, 22.02.2018).

Seems like the 1980s World Bank loans to restart Kakira Sugar Works hasn’t done enough, since the Ugandan state did right after the National Resistance Army takeover of the state. They went into an arrangement with the World Bank getting loans for the company, to restart. That deal was done 8th March 1988. As the documents said back in 198:

“Uganda currently imports US$15-20 million worth of sugar annually, which ranks second only to petroleum imports. Import substitution through restoration of domestic production capacity is therefore a high priority and eminently justified given the considerable comparative advantage Uganda enjoys as a result of its landlocked situation. Conditions for sugar production at Kakira are highly favorable. Cane growing benefits from excellent soils, good rainfall distribution (requiring only limited sunplementary irrigation) and relatively low levels of inputs of fertilizers and pesticides. The project brings back to the Kakira complex the original owners who have a demonstrated ability to manage sugar operations at Kakira and elsewhere” (SUGAR REHABILITATION PROJECT, 08.03.1988).

Therefore, what the President said today, the Sugar Rehabilitation Project, which was done to stop the heavy imports of sugar and for consumption, has clearly not worked as projected. Since his own state is squandering their resources and not even following the loans to make the project work. That is my take on it. The president of 32 years has clearly mismanaged this and not finished his job. Since he hasn’t been able to rehabilitate the industry.

When it comes to pharmaceutical industry there massive challenges, not just the sugar starch for medicine coverage of the pills. Nevertheless, the whole arrangement, since the technology to operate these machines are imported, as well is the parts. Not only the sugar starch, but also the ingredients are imported too, than you have few companies who has automated manufactures, which makes hard to make medicine on a larger scale. It is also high operation cost, because of use of back-up generators because of blackouts and shortfall of electricity. Because of this, it is expensive to have cold storage of the medicine and have a storage for the final products.

So the Idea from Museveni that it is simple, it is the whole system around it, that makes it more profitable to import ready made medicine, than actually produce it. Even if the added value of production would be there, but with the circumstances put by United Nations Industrial Development Organization, seemingly it is from 2009. However, the state of affairs hasn’t changed that much.

We can really estimate, that the adjustment and the needed organization to pull forward both industries during the years of NRM hasn’t been totally fruitful. If so, why would he complain about the imports of sugar and medicine, when he hasn’t been able to make it function with his 32 years of reign? Someone who has 3 decades, should have the ability and time to find the information, finalize plans and execute as seen fit. That is if he cared about the industries in question and their possible engines for growth and riches of Africa. Nevertheless, he hasn’t cared and haven’t used the time wisely. He has used the time bitching and not acting. That is just the way things is and it isn’t becoming better either.

He could have made sure that the pharmaceutical industry had energy, had the sufficient organization behind it to make the medicine, not only import and assemble certain medicine, he could have made sure the sugar industry was profitable and had the equipment to make the refined sugar used in the pharmaceutical industry. However, both is a lost cause, because it takes money and time. Both, is something he doesn’t have, since the narrative isn’t making him wealthy.

Alas, he we are at the status quo, with a President running for life and complaining about waste. When he has wasted 32 years and not made effort to change it. It is all talk and no fire. Peace.

Looking into the inflation of 1987 as the Sugar prices are rising in today’s Uganda!

We have had a wonderful collaboration with IMF since 1987. We have managed to control inflation. By controlling inflation, we have succeeded in preserving the people’s earnings” – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (State House, 2017).

Well, there been many who has set similarities with the inflation and price shocks of the year 1987. The Republic of Uganda has been through their mess before. The government of Uganda and the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) had just taken power in 1986. This was a year after the coup d‘etat, which brought the NRA into power. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in collaboration with International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had agreements and Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which promoted deregulation and less state control of the economy. This was also put forward to settle inflation and the deficit that the state had.

So, because some has put similarities between 1987 and 2017, as the prices has gone from about 3,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX) in 2016 and 7,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX) in 2017. There is clearly that there was problems in 1987, but whole another level. The Sugar Industry wasn’t established, the economy of Uganda needed export of coffee and this was the sole benefit of foreign currency into the economy.

Inflation in Uganda is running as high as 200 percent, and low prices to farmers serve as a disincentive to agricultural production in a country of rich soil and mild equatorial climate” (…) “At the center of the debate is the issue of devaluation. In its first year in office, the Government revalued the currency from 5,000 to 1,400 shillings to the dollar, saying that the move would make imports cheaper. But exports have become increasingly expensive. Devaluation Debated. Some hard-line nationalists in Government insist that the cost of devaluation would be devastating. The cost of such imports as sugar, cooking oil and soap would increase significantly, they say, making the average Ugandan even worse off than he is now” (Rule, 1987).

In 1987 the Uganda shilling was demonetizated during the currency reform and a currency conversion tax at a rate of 30% was imposed to further reduce excessive liquidity in the economy. There was an immediate drop in average inflation from 360.7% in May to about 200% cent in June. However, with the possible fears of complex and drastic currency reform, the premium shot up, representing essentially a portfolio shift to foreign currency, and possible capital flight, and suppressed inflation. The intended aim of the conversion tax, apart from reducing excessive liquidity, was to lend money raised through this tax to the government. This was to finance the budget deficit over a short period, rather than financing it through printing more money. Nonetheless, inflation shot up again within three months mainly due to renewed monetary financing of increased government expenditure, domestic credit expansion by commercial banks to meet coffee financing requirements and financing of the newly launched rural farmers scheme” (Barungi, P: 10-11, 1997)

Prices for sugar and vegetable oil (both imported goods) increased rapidly in the early part of the year, falling between May and August — replicating the pattern of the premium between the parallel and the official exchange rate. The subsequent fall in sugar prices and stability of cooking oil prices were due to greater official imports. Inflationary pressures on food prices have been aggravated by supply shortages on account of severe transportation problems” (World Bank; P: 36, 1988).

In October 1986, Mulema was replaced by Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, who has a medical background Kiyonga has a difficult task. The government’s finances are shaky at best. In an attempt to enable Ugandan citizens to purchase imported consumer goods, the government fixes their prices below world prices. This, of course, puts considerable pressure on the government’s finances: for example, in July 1986 the government imported $4.8 million worth of sugar to sell at subsidized prices” (Warnock & Conway, 1999).

Perspective from Kakensa: “Today sugar costs 7000/- per kilo. When Museveni came to power in 1986 each kilo was at 4/-(four shillings). Immediately he came to power he said Ugandan shilling had lost value, in 1987 all money was changed, not only changed but two zeros were cut off to give it value on addition to the 30% levied on each shilling. This means on every 100 shillings, you got 70cents. Those who had 100,000/- got 700/-” (Kakensa Media, 12.05.2017).

We can see there was certain aspects, but the sugar industry now is different. The Sugar factories are now real and the business are now in full affect. While, in 1987 the state needed coffee exports to get funding and foreign currency. The sugar was imported and was put on fixed prices. The inflation back then was because of the crashing economy after the bush-war and the effects of it. The Sugar prices now are rising for different reasons. These reasons are the yields of sugar-cane, the hoarding of sugar and the export of surplus sugar. Also, the production of ethanol and bio-fuel. That was not the situation and context in the past.

Still, history is repeating itself, since the NRM, let the prices run as crazy in the past. The price has gone up a 100% in a years time. Which, means the prices who doubled from 3000 to 7000 Uganda Shillings. This is not a stable and the ones who get hurt is the consumer and Ugandan citizens. Peace.

Reference:

Barungi, Barbara Mbire – ‘EXCHANGE RATE POLICY AND INFLATION: THE CASE OF UGANDA’ (March 1997).

Rule, Sheila – ‘UGANDA, AT PEACE, IS FACING ECONOMIC BATTLES’ (28.01.2017) link:http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/28/world/uganda-at-peace-is-facing-economic-battles.html

State House Uganda – ‘President commends Uganda – IMF collaboration since 1987’ (27.01.2017) link: http://statehouse.go.ug/media/news/2017/01/27/president-commends-uganda-%E2%80%93-imf-collaboration-1987

Warnock, Frank & Conway, Patrick – ‘Post-Conflict Recovery in Uganda’ (1999)

World Bank – ‘Report No. 7439-UG: Uganda – Towards Stabilization and Economic Recovery’ (29.09.1988)