Cane farmers, leaders oppose privatisation of State millers

Zachayo Magara, a board member of sugar task-force addresses sugarcane farmers at Sony Sugar Company in Migori County (Caleb Kingwara, Standard)
Sugarcane farmers in Migori County have continued to oppose the planned privatisation of South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony), terming the move suspicious.

The Government had marked the company as one of the key entities to be divested following a dip in profitability and production.

However, the farmers, backed by their leaders accused the State of dishonesty in trying to solve the current sugar crisis. They also questioned the process of identifying a private investor to take over the company.

The cane growers told a committee collecting views from farmers and stakeholders in Migori County that the three months were not enough for the State to identify the investor - pointing an accusing finger over what they termed a suspicious move to ground interests of farmers.

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Awendo MP Walter Sirawa termed the Government’s move to trust a private company to manage Sony hypocritical, saying all that was needed is fixing the management.

Rongo MP Paul Abuor said Sony’s standing as a public company was steady compared to other millers.

“Sony Company is on safer grounds and if the Government cannot run it, then it should be handed to the County Government which will hold its operations in trust of the farmers,” Abuor said.

Mr Abuor instead urged the miller to diversify production and venture into other products other than depending on sugar alone.

“Diversification of the company’s production capacities should be the best deal in increasing profitability,” Abuor said.

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He blamed uncontrolled cane poaching by competitors of the miller for the ongoing crisis and urged the Government to end the menace.

“The company is suffering heavy losses because of cane poaching and this should be brought to an end if we expect to help the company rise to its feet,” Abuor said.

Sony Sugar Chairman Owino Likowa assured farmers that their views will be well presented, noting that any decision to be considered will make cane farming even more profitable.

The task force was appointed by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri to look into what ails the sugar industry.

Sugarcane farmersSouth Nyanza Sugar CompanySonyMigori County