Plans to lease state-owned sugar millers on course, says PS

A tractor loads sugarcane on a lorry after an accident at Kobado along the Rodi Kopany-Ndhiwa highway. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Agriculture Principal Secretary Kiprono Rono has said plans to lease four government-owned sugarcane factories in Western and Nyanza will go on as planned.

Speaking at Kibabii University in Bungoma county on Monday during the official opening of the pre-Madaraka Day Agricultural Exhibition, Rono announced that the government will proceed with the leasing of Nzoia, Chemilil, Sony, and Muhoroni sugar mills to revitalise them.

He assured farmers and workers at the four mills that they will receive payments for arrears within three months as promised by the government.

“We aim to get these mills back on track for the benefit of the locals, which can only be achieved by allowing private investors to take over. All unpaid farmers and factory workers in the four mills will be compensated within three months,” he stated.

However, farmers and a section of leaders from sugarcane growing zones are opposed to leasing of sugar saying it could expose them to exploitation.

At the same time, the PS said top-dressing fertiliser is now available at the National Cereals and Produce Board.

“There were concerns that farmers in this region were missing top-dressing fertiliser at the Cereals Board. We have resolved the issue, and our farmers can now access the fertilisers,” he said.

He assured that government is vigilant to prevent the distribution of fake fertilisers and counterfeit seeds.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa who attended the event called on the national government to fully devolve agriculture, arguing that challenges faced by different counties necessitate local management.

“We need a discussion on the best funding approach for fertiliser procurement. We can partner on policy, but procurement should be fully devolved since counties have unique soil conditions,” Barasa said.

Also in attendance were the host Bongoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, Deputy Governor Pastor Jenipher Mbatiany among other top county officials.

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