Mysterious fire worries Sony sugar factory
By Kepher Otieno | March 12th 2021
Suspected arsonists set ablaze more than 10 acres of sugarcane plantation in Awendo sugar belt.
The Wednesday night arson followed last month's incident where 250 acres of nucleus estate farms were burnt.
On Friday, Sony Sugar acting Managing Director Stephen Ligawa decried the massive losses.
''This is wrong. It will affect our daily production chains and we call for a stop to such acts,'' he said. It was not clear whether the fire was accidental or deliberate.
It is estimated by the sugar industry that over 95 per cent of a similar act is deliberate by cane harvesting gangs.
The residual five per cent is attributed to carelessness or deliberate burning initiated by the growers.
Ligawa questioned why some people would resort to torch farms, some of which are not yet ripe for harvesting.
Cane burning leads to declined sugar recovery and less sucrose content.
''It also leads to the reduced energy potential of bagasse fibre, which is not profitable to us,' Ligawa said.
The company's sugarcane nucleus estate covers 2,492 hectares while the out-grower cane area is 15,500 hectares.
The cane is grown by some 25,000 small-scale farmers on farms typically averaging four hectares.
Sony Sugar factory serves cane farmers in Migori, Homa Bay, Narok, Kisii and Nyamira counties.
''We have now informed the police and increased beat patrols round the sugar belt is needed,'' the MD said.
The burning of cane at a time when Sony Sugar is struggling to increase its daily production is expected to adversely affect it.
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