Masindi District Farmers Shift to Sugarcane, Jeopardizing Food Supply

Harvest. Workers collect sugarcanes in one of the plantations in Masindi District last week. PHOTO/COURTESY

Masindi District | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Leaders in Masindi District are increasingly concerned about farmers favoring sugarcane cultivation over traditional food crops, raising fears of an impending food crisis in the region.

Masindi District chairperson, Mr. Cosmas Byaruhanga, highlights that the expansion of sugarcane plantations is reducing available land for crucial food crops like maize, bananas, and beans. This shift is jeopardizing the district’s ability to feed its communities. Byaruhanga states, “We face a serious food security threat due to the rapid expansion of sugarcane plantations, leaving us with limited space for essential food cultivation.”

The most affected areas, according to local leaders, are Bujenje and Buruli sub-counties, along with Masindi municipality. Local farmers are selling sugarcane to Kinyara Sugar Works in Masindi Town and the Hoima sugar factory in Hoima District. As a result, residents are now forced to buy essential food items such as bananas and Irish potatoes from neighboring districts.

Mr. Job Byaruhanga, the Masindi agricultural officer, warns of an imminent food crisis as farmers sell off their limited food crops. To prevent this crisis, Mr. Kiiza Keneth Nyendwoha, the Bunjenje MP, stresses the need for a concerted effort to prioritize food cultivation and environmental preservation, saying, “We need to balance economic development with the crucial need to feed our communities. It’s a challenge that Masindi residents and leaders must address.”

Mr. Robert Atugonza, the chairperson of Masindi Sugarcane Farmers Association Limited (MASGAL), advises farmers with limited land not to venture into sugarcane cultivation. He suggests that the government should enhance agricultural extension services, seek markets for agricultural produce, and support farmers with quality seeds to boost food production in the district.

The shift from food crops to sugarcane has forced the sourcing of bananas and Irish potatoes from other districts, indicating that local food production in Masindi District is insufficient to meet the community’s needs. This shift has disrupted the local pride in their produce, as mentioned by Mr. George Mugisa, a banana trader in Masindi Market. He notes, “We used to take pride in our local produce, but now we are sourcing bananas and Irish potatoes from other districts in Ankole like Mbarara and Kiruhura, a clear sign that our food production is inadequate.”

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