By: Ismael Kasooha
The Government of Uganda has today signed an agreement with BIDCO Uganda Limited to expand palm oil growing to Sango Bay in Kyotera District.
The process to start Oil Palm Growing in Sango Bay in Kyotera district started in 2017 but had gotten stuck with claims of people owning the government land in Sango Bay.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja witnessing the signing of the agreement between Government and Bidco Uganda Limited
The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija, signed on behalf of the Government, while Anoop Sharma, the BIDCO General Manager, represented the investor.
The agreement signed was in addition to the already existing one made in 2003.
Presiding over the agreement signing ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said that she was very happy that Sango Bay land was going to help the country bridge the supply gaps in raw materials for the manufacture of oil and soap.
Nabbanja commended the President for his guidance on issues affecting the country, especially on import substitution to save the foreign exchange that would be spent to purchase raw materials for soap and cooking oil.
“I thank H.E the president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his guidance on handling issues affecting the people especially when there was a hike in prices for soap and cooking oil. This is one of the measures we promised Ugandans to handle in the long term,” said Nabbanja.
Nabbanja said that the BIDCO plantation will act as a nucleus farm for the farmers in the area who will engage in palm oil growing as out-growers.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija signing the agreement at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala
“We want our people in Kyotera to also engage in this project either directly or as out-growers to also earn from oil palm growing,” said Nabbanja.
She said that if the country can produce in excess it can also export the raw materials to other countries and earn foreign exchange.
The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija said that the government will accord the necessary support to the investor so as to reduce on import of raw materials used in the manufacture of soap and oil which are basic needs of the community.
“As a ministry we are ready to offer any support needed by the company to ensure that the project goes on as planned. Please don’t hesitate to alert me whenever there are issues to be sorted out,” said Kasaija.
Maj. (Rtd) Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, the State Minister for Agriculture said that government wants to add 26,000 hectares to oil palm plantations in the country.
“As the Ministry of Agriculture, we want our people to also engage in oil palm growing as one way of commercialization their farming. We want to address the challenge of lack of adequate raw materials to be addressed,” noted Bwino.
Anoop Sharma, the BIDCO General Manager, who signed on behalf of his company says that this is a milestone to the country because over 3,000 jobs will be created and more taxes remitted to the treasury and over 200 million dollars will be saved.
“This is a major milestone for Uganda because the project will employ over 3,000 people on top of saving millions of dollars that would have been spent to purchase raw materials for soap and cooking oil manufacture,” said Sharma.
The agreement was witnessed by the Solicitor General Francis Atoke.
The Prime Minister has been coordinating efforts to extend palm oil growing to Kyotera in Sango Bay land. In March 2022, the government initiated the process of repossessing the former Sango Bay sugar estates in Kakuuto, Kabira, Kyebe, and Mutukula sub-counties of Kyotera District.
The plan was to convert the land into Oil Palm tree plantations as part of the National Vegetable Oil Development program.