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Sugar farmers root for new milling machines : The Standard



Farmers protest seeking revival of Mumias Sugar Company in May, 2018. (Benjamin Sakwa, Standard)

The National Task Force on Sugar has been urged to advise the Government to build new sugar milling plants instead of wasting or spending a lot of money on repairs each year.

Each financial year, the State spends huge cash replacing old parts of the State-owned factory’s crushing machines.
Rather than spend the millions on repairs, experts in the sector proposed that new milling machines which cost less than Sh3 billion be bought and installed.
These were among the proposals to the taskforce that pitched tent in Kisumu to gather views on how best the sector can be managed competitively.

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Cane farmers led by Francis Waswa and Ezra Okoth asked the Government to build new factories if they cannot repair the old machinery. “We want more cost-effective methods to run the sector developed,” said Charles Atyang who is the chair of the new Kenya Sugarcane and Allied Products.
Most of the factories, they claim were unable to operate at their installed capacity in the 1970s due to old parts.
The farmers and line experts also made radical proposals alongside a number of industry stakeholders that the State writes off the Sh2.6 billion debts owed to the farmers.
The farmers want the State to replace obsolete parts of the factories milling machines that are ineffective.
In a memorandum to the task force, cane growers’ representatives sought for a review of cane prices per tonne from the current Sh4,000 to Sh10,000 or more.

SEE ALSO :Farmers turn cane land into sand mines

They noted that most flourishing sugar factories had embraced new technology to produce sugar which has helped to cut down on costs
The State hopes the task force will help identify challenges and offer practical solutions to boost the industry’s fortunes.
Massive imports
While constituting the taskforce, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said sugar production had declined over the years leading to massive imports.
Poor cane farming methods, poaching, obsolete equipment, debts and poor maturing cane variety have seen production slump.

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Yesterday, the secretariat’s Chief Executive Abala Wanga said they expected the governors from the sugar-growing regions and the cabinet secretary to meet farmers.
Among those present in the meeting were the Sugar Directorate Chief Executive Solomon Odera, former Privatisation Commission boss Solomon Kitungu now the Investment Secretary.

Sugar FarmersNational Task ForceSugarCane farmers

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