Sugar millers decry cane poaching

Thursday March 9 2017

Sugar cane delivered to Nzoia Sugar Company in

Sugar cane delivered to Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County. Sugar millers have decried cane poaching and want zoning re-introduced. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Sugar stakeholders are requesting their regulator to return zoning rule to avoid undue scramble for sugarcane.

They said the desire by sugar millers to control supply of raw materials in some regions was causing animosity.

The millers on Thursday said the zoning would reduce poaching, which has been on the rise leading to the near-collapse of the industry.

“Sugar cane is a heavy investment crop that millers need to take charge. We invest so much by giving farmers inputs. If there is no zoning, there is careless and rampant poaching of cane,” said Mr Moses

Owino, the Mumias Sugar Company corporate affairs manager.

The cane zoning formula in sugar belts maps out territories within which each miller is expected to develop their raw materials and work with farmers without encroachment from another company.

The Kenya Sugar Board has however in the past criticised the model on grounds that it restricts farmers to a specific miller.

“Most of the factories do not have nuclear and out grower’s sugar forcing them to scramble for the raw materials where other millers have invested on,” he said

The Kenya Sugarcane Plantation Workers Union secretary general, Francis Wangara, on Thursday said licensing of many milling plants in one cane-producing zone affects the performance of the industry.

“What we are witnessing between some millers is as a result of Kenya Sugar Board licensing companies without a clear cane development plan,”Mr Wangara said.

Mr Wangara holds that according to the law, firms wishing to start milling are required to have sugar cane to be granted a milling licence.

“We need to bring back the zoning rule to curb the rampant theft,” he said.