Farmers at the Keyian Group Ranch in Trans Mara West are counting losses estimated at over Sh50 million after a fierce fire razed down their sugarcane plantation Saturday.
The Group Ranch Chairman Mr Phillip Saiyuah said 200 acres of their sugarcane plantation was destroyed. Mr Saiyuah said the fire was started by unknown individuals at night and their motive remains unknown.
General Service Unit officers who responded to distress calls by the ranch managers watched helplessly as the fire consumed the vast sugarcane plantation.
“We have suffered a big loss. We are asking the government to conduct thorough investigations to bring those behind the destruction to book,” said Mr Saiyuah.
He said the cane was mature for harvesting.
“Our farm is located at the Kisii-Maasai border and it is important that authorities address the issue urgently to avoid border conflicts,” said the ranch chairman.
Farm Manager David Kuya said burning hundreds of acres of mature cane is an economic sabotage.
“We suspect foul play in the matter,” said Mr Kuya adding that they will be penalised by cane millers for the burnt produce.
He said they are likely to receive a heavy penalty of not less than Sh4 million once they sell the burnt cane.
The farmers said it may be a case of revenge by people who had been denied grazing land. Vice chairman Swamin Momposhi said the fire that started at 10 pm, went on throughout the night.
“It is sad because hundreds of people depend on this land for a livelihood. Causing such loss during this Covid-19 pandemic is a double tragedy,” said Mr Momposhi.
This is not the first time the group ranch is facing such a challenge.
In 2013, a fire razed down at least 85 acres of the sugarcane causing a loss of Sh13 million.
Keyian Group Ranch has received several awards at the national and county level for its good organisational skills and positive impact to the community.
Many group ranches are currently faced with leadership wrangles leading to their death. The group leadership said due to its success, authorities should protect its interests.
Apart from sugarcane growing, the group also grows tea besides dairy farming. The farm produces yoghurt, fresh and sour milk.