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Governor wants sugarcane farming banned in his county

By Osinde Obare | Published Fri, April 13th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 12th 2018 at 22:29 GMT +3
Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba addresses the press in his office in Kitale town. [Photo by Peter Ochieng/Standard]

The county government wants sugarcane farming in the county banned over claims it is threatening maize production.

Governor Patrick Khaemba told the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture yesterday cane farming was continually reducing land under maize, Kenya's staple food.

"Sugarcane farming is interfering with land meant to grow food crops," said Mr Khaemba, who has also intensified campaigns for coffee, banana and avocado farming.

“We are worried that we are going to lose more land to sugarcane farming unless farmers are stopped from embracing the crop."

Last year, Khaemba wrote to then Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett to ban sugarcane farming in his county.

“I wish to bring to your attention that as a county, we are concerned that the entry of sugarcane farming is set to affect maize production and we appeal for the intervention of your office,” said the letter.

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Khaemba told the House committee that despite his petition, the national government had not acted to stop sugarcane farming.

“We petitioned the CS to ban the farming of the crop because it is posing a threat to food security but no action has been taken. I am now appealing to the committee to help push the Government to intervene,” the governor told committee members who visited his office.

Trans Nzoia produces 80 per cent of the country’s maize seed requirement and for export to neighbouring countries. It also produces five million bags of maize annually.

The governor also asked Parliament to enact laws to protect commercial maize farming. He said the laws should ensure that large farms were not split to grow sugarcane or for human settlement.

The county hosts three major seed maize processors namely Kenya Seed Company, Western Seed Company and SeedCo Kenya.

Some farmers have abandoned maize production and taken up sugarcane farming due to low maize prices and lack of incentives.