Security Verifies Bunyoro Tobacco Growers

2904 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
A group of more than 1000 farmers petitioned Ernest Kiiza, the then Minister of Bunyoro Affairs calling for his intervention into the matter. Although the Minister pledged to discuss the issue with the Ministry of Trade, the suspension of the tobacco company has not been lifted, yet farmers are harvesting.

Security in Bunyoro has embarked on a verification exercise of all tobacco growers contracted by Global Leaf Holdings Uganda, three months after the company's operations were suspended.

The Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives halted operations of the new tobacco company in March, after it had registered and partly supported farmers for the planting season. The Ministry argued that the suspension was to scrutinize the company capabilities before it could be allowed to buy the farmers' crop.

Following the suspension, farmers complained that they had no one to sell their produce to since the company that contracted them was out of business.

A group of more than 1000 farmers petitioned Ernest Kiiza, the then Minister of Bunyoro Affairs calling for his intervention into the matter. Although the Minister pledged to discuss the issue with the Ministry of Trade, the suspension of the tobacco company has not been lifted, yet farmers are harvesting.

Since the beginning of this week, staffs from the Office of the Regional Internal Security Officer (RISO) have been interrogating farmers contracted by the suspended tobacco company.

A source at the RISO's office that preferred anonymity because of the covert nature of his work, confirmed the ongoing exercise. He said the office was directed to verify whether the tobacco company truly contracted farmers in the region, review the contracts documents and ascertain if the said farmers had grown tobacco.

He reveals that the findings will help government in its decision to either allow or maintain the suspension of Global Leaf Holdings.

Global Leaf Holdings General Administrator Robert Wanderi is optimistic that government will use the findings of the verification exercise to allow the company operate and buy farmers' produce.
 
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Meanwhile, some of the contracted farmers are worried over the lack of market for their produce. Moses Tibamwenda of Kisaka village in Kigorobya Sub County says even the Rukungiri tobacco variety they grew can only be bought by Global Holdings. The other companies in the region only buy Barley tobacco.

Tibamwenda who has two acres of tobacco requests government to lift the ban on the company operations, so he can sell his produce.
 
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Global Leaf Holdings has over 3000 registered farmers in the districts of Hoima, Masindi, Kibaale and Kyenjojo. Other tobacco companies operating in the region are Alliance One Uganda and Uganda Tobacco Services (UTS).