The government has gazetted new rules that will help in the revival of sugarcane growers associations and streamline their operations.
The guidelines are contained in Subsidiary Sugar Crop Regulations, 2020, published by the Kenya Sugar Directorate to comply with the Sugar Task Force Report.
“An out-grower institution that intends to be registered shall apply for Authority from the Ministry of Agriculture,” the regulations read in part.
The new rules will see out-growers negotiate better terms of supply of sugarcane to the millers and co-ordinate the production, harvesting and transport of sugarcane to the millers.
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They will also provide financial credit or arrange for financing of its growers for the production of their sugarcane, land clearance and preparation and planting. This includes cultivation, harvesting, transport and assistance to growers. The institutions will also provide accounting and record-keeping services to members.
The regulations come at a time when most out-growers associations have either been placed under receivership or have stopped operations. They are Muhoroni Sugarcane Out Growers Company, Nzoia Out Growers Company and Mumias Out Growers Company.
According to the new rules, out-grower institutions that fail to comply will be fined Sh500,000, and their officials face imprisonment for one year.
Saulo Busolo, the chair of Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Association, welcomed the gazettement of new rules saying they were long overdue. “We welcome the idea because it will strengthen the voices of farmers which have, in the past, been muzzled by the millers,” Busolo said.
Ezra Okoth, the secretary-general of Kenya Federation of Sugarcane Farmers sought Agriculture CS Peter Munya’s intervention to bail out-grower’s institutions in receivership.