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Atwoli wants counties to manage sugar millers

NEWS
By Nathan Ochunge and Raphael Wanjala | Aug 21st 2018 | 2 min read
Maragoli cultural festivals event at Mbale in Vihiga County recently. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Licensing of many private sugar companies is to blame for the problems facing sugarcane farmers and the near collapse of public millers. 

This is according to Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli, who now wants private millers closed.

The trade unionist said although private millers paid farmers promptly as opposed to the State-owned ones, they exploited the growers.

“Private sugar factories created room for cartels to import contraband sugar into the country. The excess sugar brought into the country was repackaged and dumped in the Kenyan market, thus killing our sugar factories,” said Atwoli.

As a result, Mr Atwoli said, State-owned sugar millers have been making losses, forcing some to close down.

“Sugarcane farming is a key contributor to the growth of the lake region economy and the only way to liberate our farmers from poverty is by shutting down all private-owned millers,” he said.

He added: “The cane poaching problem was started by private millers and they (private millers) cannot help farmers earn a living from their sweat. They have to be removed from the market.”

Atwoli also wants counties forming the Lake Region Economic Bloc to prioritise revival of ailing sugar industries.

In an interview with The Standard on Monday, Atwoli said the only way to help sugarcane farmers was to have governors in the sugarcane growing areas manage the sector, and not the national government.

Once the millers are placed under county governments, he said, research experts can be engaged to develop fast maturing sugar varieties.

“The experts will help governors get cane varieties that can take less than a year to be ready for crushing as compared to the old species that take 24 months.”

 

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