By Rael Jelimo

Nandi County:  Efforts are under way to address the challenges facing local sugarcane farmers.

Cabinet Secretary in charge of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei told farmers in Tinderet, Nandi County, that they would soon benefit from 2,000 tractors to be imported from Brazil.

He said the Government was in the final stages of signing a Sh7 billion tender for the supply of the tractors.

“The Government has heard the cries of the cane farmer in Kenya. We are importing these 2,000 tractors to reduce the cost of land preparation, sugarcane loading and transportation to the factory,” said the cabinet secretary.

He further revealed that the Government was working on a policy to  reduce fertiliser prices for sugarcane farmers.

“The Government is working to make sugarcane fertiliser prices comparable with the other types of fertilisers. Cane fertiliser is expensive in the country, compared to other types of fertilisers,” Koskei said.

Monopoly and demand

The farmers complained that there was a high incidence of corruption in the sugarcane sector.

“We are forced to bribe transporters in order to harvest our cane plantations. This is coupled with exorbitant transportation charges due to the monopoly and demand they enjoy.

“We have sugarcane that has been on the farms for more than 36 months. This has gone way past the 18-month maturity period as the transporters refuse to come to our farms,” said John Tuwei,  a farmer

The cane farmers further accused Chemelil Factory of ignoring the needs of the small-scale farmer and of taking advantage of its monopoly to manipulate sugarcane prices to the farmers’ disadvantage.