President Yoweri Museveni recently commissioned a $36 million state-of-the-art ethanol distillery at Kakira Sugar Factory in Jinja.
In his remarks, 500 people while the entire Madhvani Group employs 80,000 people.
Museveni applauded them for producing industrial grade sugar used by pharmaceuticals in production of syrups, sugar coating tablets and also in soft drinks.
This he said, has helped the country save forex that would have been spent importing the sugar.
He assured them of the bill to be tabled in Parliament to allow the blending of ethanol with petrol.
“I would like to thank the Madhvani Group, despite the disappointment by Idi Amin. The family pioneered the production of sugar in Uganda.
By 1972 they were producing 70,000 tons but today they have almost tripled the production to 180,000 tons,” he said.
He added that the ethanol and bio-oil component was a well-timed initiative that coincided with preparations for the commencement of oil extraction.
Ethanol is distilled from the fermentation of materials containing carbohydrates or sugar. Ingredients for making ethanol include sugarcane molasses, grain, sorghum, maize and sugar beet among others.
Although ethanol use is not entirely new in Uganda, its use is growing by leaps and bounds. The luquid is mostly used in laboratories, in schools, in cooking as well as in manufacture of fragrants such as perfumes. With the proposed introduction of new regulations requiring motorists to blend their fuel with ethanol, the chemical is expected to become even more sought after.
President Museveni thanked the Madhvanis for supporting industrialization by producing industrial grade sugar used in pharmaceutical factories for making syrups, sugar coating drugs and also for making soft drinks.
He added that this move has not only saved the country the much needed foreign currency that would have been used for importing sugar but has also provided Ugandans with employment.
“We are considering introducing a bill in Parliament on blending ethanol and petrol,” Museveni said.
The President urged investors in the sugar industry to make partnerships with owners of vast land to have meaningful impact on the out growers welfare.
“I call upon out growers and the factory management to get together and harmonize their issues because we are working for a better economy,” he said.
The President took advantage of the occasion to castigate people who go around saying that the factory belongs to Indians.
“I don’t like the confrontational approach as if Indians are doing something that solely benefits them. They pay taxes, employ our children and the money remains here in Uganda. Therefore, when you say. Indian factory! It is wrong; it is Ugandan factory. The factories for
Indians are in India. I, therefore, thank the Madhvanis for first producing sugar, electricity and now petrol,” he said.
President Museveni pledged to address the issues to regulate the sugar industry but urged the Madhvanis to partner with farmers with large chunks of land for production of sugar-cane, as the cane is not a high value crop. He said people with small land holdings should be left to do intensive farming like the growing of fruits that give high returns.
Turning to the issue of prices payable to sugar-cane out-growers, President Museveni advised the buyers and out-growers to sit together and agree on the prices taking into consideration the market prices globally.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde assured sugar manufacturers in the country that government will address their concerns.
According to Mayur Madhvani, the joint Managing Director Kakira sugar, the facility has an annual capacity of 2 million litres of ethanol.
“Some of which will directly be used as petroleum while some will be used in the beverage industry to make spirits” he noted.
The function was among others attended by the Kyabazinga of Busoga
William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope Gabula IV, the minister for presidency Esther Mbulakubuza Mbayo, the state minister for cooperatives Frederick Ngobi Gume, the Director National Planning
Authority and also Busoga Kingdom Premier Dr. Joseph Muvawala and area members of parliament among others.