Roads to cushion cane farmers from incurring losses

Peter Odero, a sugarcane farmer at Ombo Kachieng’ village in North Kabuoch ward, Ndhiwa Sub-county demonstrates his sugarcane is four years old but has not been harvested due to lack of roads in the area. [James Omoro, Standard]

Hundreds of cane farmers incurring losses due to bad roads that hindered cane transportation are relieved after a miller began constructing roads in Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County.

Mature cane has overstayed on farms in the region because poor roads had made it impossible for trucks to access cane plantations.

Many farmers had raised concerns that their sugarcane was going to waste due to failure by the local miller Sukari Limited to harvest the mature crop.

Sugarcane has been on the farms for more than four years instead of the recommended 18 months before harvesting.

But Sukari Industry is now undertaking road construction in the area to cushion farmers from further losses.

The miller has completed the construction of three roads measuring 18km.

They include Oboch -Sikwadhi (12km), Jabagre (3km) and Okinda (3km) roads in North Kabuoch Ward.

The construction of a 13 km Ariri-Oridi-Unga road in Kanyikela and Kanyamwa Kosewe wards is also ongoing.

Sukari Limited General Manager David Okoth has officially opened the three complete roads for use.

Speaking at Ombo Kachieng in North Kabuoch, Okoth said the company started the road construction project to cushion farmers from losses in sugarcane production.

"Some farmers have not had their sugarcane harvested for four years, and this is unhealthy for agribusiness. Our work as Sukari Industry is not to construct roads, but we are doing it to salvage farmers from losses," Okoth said.

From left, Sukari Industry General Manager David Okoth (carrying a pair of scissors), the Assistant Chief of East Kachieng Sub-location and Sukari Industry Transport Manager John Okinda during official opening of Okinda road in North Kabuoch ward, Ndhiwa Sub-county. Okoth is cutting the ribbon to mark official opening of the road. [James Omoro, Standard]

When sugarcane is not harvested after 18 months, it starts losing sucrose content, hence low tonnage.

"The obstacle which hindered us from harvesting sugarcane has been overcome. I assure farmers that their cane will be harvested systematically," Okoth said.

He warned the company field assistants against soliciting bribes from farmers before harvesting their cane.

"I want farmers to report any field assistant who demands a bribe. We will deal with them accordingly," Okoth said.

The company Transport Manager John Okinda urged farmers to co-operate with the officials to enhance efficiency in harvesting the sugarcane.

East Kachieng assistant chief Ann Onyango said the roads will enhance sugarcane production in the area.
She warned residents against the vandalism of the roads. "We will take legal action against them."

Farmers expressed optimism that the roads will transform their lives.

"The cane has been on the farm for four years. Some withered, but I am happy it will be harvested," said Peter Odero, a farmer.

Another farmer Plister Adhiambo said the roads will help them easily access health facilities.

"Lack of roads had made life unbearable in this area. People with severe illnesses have been suffering due to inability to access health facilities during rainy seasons," said Adhiambo. 

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