Regulator, millers to hold crucial meeting to resolve cane price dispute

Tractors hauling sugarcane to Chemelil Sugar Company on October 3, 2021. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Alarmed by the ongoing standoff between sugar producers and farmers over sugarcane buying prices, Agriculture Principal Secretary Paul Rono has convened a meeting with the feuding parties to find a solution.

There are fears that the fresh woes over pricing threaten to reduce sugar production and cripple an industry that is already on its knees.

Persistent disagreements over the pricing of sugarcane have led to tensions between millers and farmers, prompting concerns about the stability of the sugar industry.

In a positive turn, the millers have expressed their readiness to step back from their threat of shutting down operations. This decision follows a letter from AFA sugar director Jude Chesire, urging all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue to address the contentious issue of sugarcane buying prices.

Currently, farmers propose maintaining the rate at Sh5,900, while millers advocate for a reduction to Sh5,100.

"The PS Agriculture will be there and the regulator to spearhead the dialogue to have operations running seamlessly," Chesire told The Standard in a phone interview.

Joyce Opondo, representing the millers, confirmed receipt of the letter from Mr Chesire appealing to them to reconsider their shutdown threat in favour of fostering dialogue and finding mutually beneficial solutions. Opondo said they were in Nairobi earlier in the week to have the dialogue, but the meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday.

“Millers will continue with their operations, but the anxiety and far-reaching ramifications of this situation are causing significant concerns and could negatively impact the country,” said Ms. Opondo.

“The outcome of the Tuesday meeting with the PS and the sugar regulator will be crucial. Should the situation not substantially change, millers will be forced to cease operations as they cannot sustain the monumental losses.”

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