Ruto wants Mumias to pay farmers Sh1 Billion bonus yearly

President William Ruto during the official launch of Khwisero Technical and Vocational College on February 3, 2024. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

President William Ruto has asked the Sarrai Group running Mumias Sugar to start paying farmers Sh1 billion annually for the use of some 9,000-nucleus estate the company got from locals.

Speaking in Lurambi Constituency during an interdenominational prayer service on Sunday, the President said tea and coffee farmers benefited from bonus as sugarcane growers remained hapless.

"First the investor must pay farmers and workers on time then share the profits he gets for using the nucleus which is public property with farmers," said Ruto.

"He does not own the factory and nucleus estate there is no way he can do business on it and pocket the money alone."

He said he had done some calculations with the company which agreed to pay the farmers some Sh600 Million as a bonus even as he held Sh1 billion was achievable.

The head of state said the bonus would be adjusted to resonate with the economics of the day so that the farmers keep benefiting as the factory runs.

Ruto added that he was going the State would inject some Sh3 billion into all state-owned factories for the cane development programme to help farmers grow enough cane.

“The cane development money will be specifically for sugar millers to help farmers grow enough cane to process sugar and stop importing sugar from Brazil and Egypt,” said Ruto.

Ruto asked members of parliament, especially from the sugar belt zone to pass a state-sponsored motion targeted for June that will allow for the allocation of the Sh 3 billion cane development kitty.

Ruto took a swipe at Bumula MP Jack Wamboka for spreading misinformation to suggest that the government had intentions of selling and privatizing Nzoia Sugar Company and other state-owned factories.

He clarified that what the government had planned with the firms was to lease them out to bidders who could return them to profitability.

Wamboka had challenged the president to keep to his word of getting Nzoia a new plant to improve its crushing efficiency as he had pledged towards his campaigns to become president and not lease it out.

Ruto said he cornered and weeded out cartels frustrating the revival of Mumias Sugar Company and the sugar sector at large stating that what is remaining is to streamline the management of the company.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa welcomed the move by the head of State stating he has been championing the welfare of farmers, and workers and writing off Sh33 billion debts crippling the operations of the once East and Central Africa sugar-producing giant.

“I want to thank the President for agreeing with me that Mumias investors must seriously take into account the interests of our farmers by paying them on time, same as workers. The nucleus estate is ancestral land and belongs to our people and the investor must pay a bonus for using it,” said Barasa.