By James Anyanzwa
Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) has moved to quell a simmering row between contracted cane farmers within its zone and the company’s anti-cane poaching unit. The unit deals with sugarcane theft from contracted farmers.
In a statement Wednesday, the Company said it had no intention of harassing private cane farmers. It warned that it would not condone malpractices from rival millers, which depend on sugarcane Mumias produces.
“We have invested a lot of money in cane development and that is why we are safeguarding what belongs to us. We do not intend to harass any private cane developer though,” said Kebati. Kebati said the miller incurs huge costs on inputs and ploughing and that the company risks losing a lot of cash if a contracted farmer sold the produce to another miller.
“The seedlings and fertiliser are given to farmers on credit to be recovered during harvesting. We only recover the money from the income (paycheck). We will lose a lot of money if our farmers sold to other millers,” said Kebati.
This comes after private cane growers from Bungoma County accused MSC of harassment and intimidation while harvesting their privately developed cane.
Cane poachers have also been accused of organising demonstrations against sugar millers in a bid to advance their own interests.
The traders who ‘poach’ the cane were accused of exploiting farmers by paying them peanuts. It is understood they purchase cane from the farmers at Sh13, 000 per ten tonne lorry instead of factory price of Sh38, 000 at an average of Sh3, 800 per tonne .
On average, a farmer can make up to Sh21, 000 after deductions if he sold the produce to millers.
Kebati said Mumias is committed to better service delivery and has opened outreach and customer care offices.