New task force should help bring to an end sugar industry woes
SEE ALSO :JKUAT don honoured by African UnionIn truth, the dwindling fortunes of sugar farmers is a sad tale of how greedy government officials and factory managers got induced to collapse the economy of a whole region. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, in 2009, the contribution of sugar to the country’s agricultural output was 15 per cent. In fact, it was estimated that 25 per cent of Kenya’s population depended directly or indirectly on sugar mostly through the 250,000 smallholder farmers supplying nearly 80 per cent to the factories. The rest is supplied by factory-owned nucleus estates. Fast forward to 2018; the story is depressing to say the least. From this, it is obvious that for the task force to succeed, it must avoid the pitfalls of previous attempts which by design or default, left out the farmer. Putting the farmer at the centre of efforts to resuscitate the industry should be the rule rather than the exception. In addition to the challenges Kenya’s sugar industry has faced—trade liberalisation under COMESA and WTO rules, high costs of production, broken down infrastructure which are not unique, the industry has suffered inordinately from the effects of poor governance and insufficient funding for expansion and research. Contraband sugar disguised as products of known millers have undermined the industry in a big way. Flooding the market with cheap imports coupled with the non-payment for sugar delivered to the factories has made planting sugar a non-lucrative venture. And therein lies the rub. The task force will not be reinventing the wheel, but if nothing else, they should make it their business to propose the right medication to the malady.
We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.