Only a deliberate political intervention would save the ailing sugar sector from collapse, Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya says.
The sector, which is an economic mainstay for many Western and Nyanza residents and those in parts of Rift Valley and Coast, Oparanya noted, could only be revived via a political solution.
The Kakamega governor who is serving his second and last term noted that the sugar taskforce report which had been touted to offer a solution to problems bedevilling the industry had failed.
The long-awaited report that was handed over to President Uhuru last year, Oparanya said, failed because of numerous court cases.
CoG, he said, enjoyed goodwill towards the revival of the sugar industry but the cases blocked the group from ensuring that the task force report is implemented.
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“We have more than 10 cases which are preventing us from moving forward,” Governor Oparanya said.
Speaking at Governor Zachary Obado’s home in Rapogi, Migori County, Obado noted that although the leaders were being blocked by many court cases, all hope was not lost.
“We have met with the President and we have told him that it is only a political solution that can make us move forward. It must be a political solution that will ensure that the sugar sector is revived,” Oparanya stated.
He added: “We can continue to talk, and even after we are gone some will still come and talk about the same issue but there will be no other solution. Without a political solution, our people will continue suffering”.
Governor Obado called on the president to act on cartels who undermined sugarcane farming in the country.
“It is a very serious thing here and we should ensure that we empower our people by stopping cartels terrorising Kenyan farmers in terms of importing cheap sugar,” Obado said.
The governor noted that the government does not need to depend on cheap imports yet Kenya had enough capacity to produce enough sugar.
Obado asked the CoG boss to be cognizant that agriculture was one of the country’s core functions and that the government should protect its farmers by discouraging the imports.
His sentiments were echoed by politician Omingo Magara who called on the CoG to sit with the president and ensure sugar matters were solved.
“You did a wonderful sugar report but it has been sidelined. If there was money for BBI, then the money that would help solve sugar problems in the country should be there,” Magara noted.
Kenya National Sugarcane Farmers Association Secretary-General Ezra Olodi regretted that little had been done to revamp the sector despite the organisation push.