Leaders in Western region have petitioned the government to compel sugar companies to pay farmers revised Sh4,040 per tonne of sugarcane.
They also want Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to enforce regulations that require sugar firms to harvest sugarcane within 22 months.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, a host of MCAs and other leaders said the mature crops were going to waste in farms in Kakamega, Bungoma and Busia counties.
“CS Munya gave sugar mills up to April 1 to start paying Sh4,040 per tonne of sugarcane. Sugar mills have been paying the Sh3,700 since 2018, yet farmers incur huge expenses during farming,” said Khalwale.
East Kabras MCA Lazarus Anaswa regretted that farmers had been left at the mercy of cartels and corrupt individuals in the sugar sector. “Farmers are forced to part with money to secure a permit allowing them to harvest mature crop, brokers have taken advantage of the situation and are fleecing the farmers. We must act fast to end this problem.”
Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers said the limited crushing capacity of the factories contributed to the delayed harvesting of cane.
The branch secretary, Jeremiah Akhonya, said the demand was higher than crushing capacity, thus affecting issuing of permits.
He urged the government to ban sugar imports, eliminate brokers and cartels and expand sugar mills’ crushing capacities in order to bring change in the sector.
Butali Sugarcane Farmers Association Chairman William Kopi said they had engaged Butali management over issuing harvesting permits but they are blaming it on Covid-19 pandemic, which slowed down operations.