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VAS

MPs want sugar millers streamlined before sale

CARTOON
By | September 10th 2009

By Kepher Otieno

The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Livestock wants the Government to streamline operations of state-owned sugar factories before they are privatised.

Speaking while on a tour of Chemelil and Muhoroni sugar factories on Tuesday, the committee, chaired by Naivasha MP John Mututho, asked the Government to ensure that farmers were paid all their dues as a matter of priority.

Fight poverty

The MPs said failure by the sugar millers to harvest farmers’ cane on time, frustrated efforts to fight poverty in the sugar-growing areas.

Farmers told the MPs that local factories were unable to harvest their sugarcane promptly, which denied them access to proceeds from the crop and an opportunity to use their land for alternative farming.

"This delay suffocates sugarcane farmers economically," said Ezra Okoth, a farmer.

"Sugarcane is our livelihood and we want to earn from it like other Kenyans do."

They revealed to the committee about how they are made to wait for over three years for their crop to be harvested.

This, according to the farmers, goes counter to the agreement, which stipulates that sugarcane is harvested within 18 months.

The delay, farmers said, also resulted in poor yield because by the time their crop is harvested, most of it will have dried up.

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