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Farmers want sugar importers charged

By Kepher Otieno | Published Tue, July 24th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 23rd 2018 at 23:47 GMT +3
Sugarcane farmers demonstrate in Awendo town on demands that the Government to take action against Sugar Millers in the region who are involved in cane poaching and importing contraband sugar in the region. [Caleb King'wara/Standard]

Farmers’ representatives want action taken against officials of a sugar company that was said to have been paid Sh82 million to import the commodity on behalf of another firm.

The Awendo branch chairman of the Kenya Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, John Odondi, and the secretary, Joseph Adongo, asked how the firm could allow itself to be used to bring in a consignment worth over Sh3.5 billion and only get Sh82 million.

“We want to see action taken against firms that used Sony Sugar Company’s name to import white and not brown sugar, as was sanctioned. Management must also be held liable,” said Mr Adongo.

Own volition

The farmers also demanded to know how many times the miller brought in sugar.

Speaking to the press in Kisumu town, the farmers also demanded that Sony clear the Sh300 million arrears it owes them for cane delivered.

The management of Sony Sugar has said the imports were legal.

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Sony Managing Director Bernard Otieno, backed by a letter from the Sugar Directorate, said the imports were allowed by the regulator.

In a letter dated October 19, 2017, signed by Sugar Directorate CEO Solomon Odera, the Sony management said the authorities gave the company the leeway to import by approving their application pursuant to section 4(1) of the sugar imports, exports and by-products.

“This is to confirm that your letter seeking to be enlisted as a sugar importer has been approved as from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018,” said Mr Odera.

Mr Otieno said his company was approached by a sugar importer - Holbud - and agreed to import 50,500 tonnes of sugar worth Sh3.5 billion.

On Wednesday last week, Otieno told the parliamentary joint committees on agriculture chaired by Adan Ali and Trade by Kanini Kega that they were paid Sh82 million.

Leaders from Migori are also unhappy with the cheap imports they claim had led to a glut in the local market.

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