Save our sugar mills, farmers ask governors

Tuesday June 12 2018

Kenya sugar sector

A truck ferries sugarcane along Kamagambo- Nyansembe road. Sugarcane farmers in western Kenya now want the region’s governors to  help solve woes facing milling companies PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

By BARACK ODUOR
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Sugarcane farmers in western Kenya now want the region’s governors to  help solve woes facing milling companies given their opposition to  privatisation of the State owned firms.

Producers under the Kenya Federation of Association Growers have asked county chiefs to fund revival of the struggling companies.

Federation secretary general Ezra Okoth said if the millers are allowed to go under, the result will be a spike in poverty levels.

“If governors in sugarcane growing belts fail to come to the aid of the ailing millers, then the region is staring at poverty,” says Mr Okoth.

The federation’s plea comes in the wake of  challenges facing Muhoroni Sugar Company after farmers threatened to stop the delivery of the raw material, demanding arrears of up to Sh270 million.

The State-owned company, which is in receivership, is accused of failing to pay the farmers for the last seven months.

Despite delivering their produce to the factory, the more than 23,000 farmers drawn from Kisumu and Nandi counties claim the management has ignored their plight.

Delay sale

Governors and MPs from the region want the sale of millers delayed to allow the State to address pressing matters.

They want the government to disclose the worth of the factories, their assets and liabilities before further steps can be taken.

Muhoroni MP James Onyango K’Oyoo claims the state is planning to sell off the millers to the lowest bidders with powerful connections.

Nandi Governor Governor Sang argues that the process which started in 2009 could drag on for another decade if deliberations made at “these meetings are not implemented.”

Pressing issues

Migori Governor Okoth Obado, who is also the Council of Governors’ Agriculture Committee chair said they had agreed during a meeting chaired by Deputy President William Ruto that pressing issues be addressed through technical committee.

“Intergovernmental Business and Economic Committee has tasked the National Treasury and the Privatisation Commission with formulating a revenue sharing plan to split the reserve shares between the two levels of the government.

" The same committee is also expected to find ways of encorporating the counties in the licensing role,” says Mr Obado.

In March 13, leaders from Migori County including the governor, Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo and Uriri MP Mark Nyamita told the commission they would not allow South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony) to be sold.

Farmers have rejected a proposal to privatise the South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony).

Sony is among five sugar millers earmarked for privatisation.