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Why Sh3b Kericho cane factory could be a game changer

Rift Valley
 West Valley Sugarcane Factory in Soin-Sigowet Constituency. [File, Standard]

Sugarcane farmers in Kericho are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Sh3.2 billion West Valley Sugarcane Factory in Soin-Sigowet Constituency.

The plant, set to open in August, will be the first of its kind in Kericho since the closure of the Soin Sugar Factory over a decade ago.

One of the beneficiaries, Mr Joseph Bett, a farmer with five acres in Kapkormom area, has been struggling with the high cost of transporting his cane to Kibos and Muhoroni sugar factories. 

Most farmers in Kericho, classified under Zone E, incur transportation costs of between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500 per tonne to factories in Nyanza and also face delays in payment from state-owned plants.

 West Valley Sugar Factory managing director Bernard Soi (centre). [File, Standard]

"We expect that the factory to cut transport costs by half," Mr Bett, who produces 60 to 70 tonnes a year, said.

Mr Bernard Soi, the West Valley Sugar Factory managing director, said the plant was 85 per cent complete. "It will have a daily crushing capacity of 1,250 tonnes of cane, which can be expanded to 2,500 tonnes," he said.

The company has registered 3,800 farmers - who cumulatively own 10,000 acres of cane - in Soin/ Sigowet, Ainamoi and Tindiret constituencies. 

"We will launch a cane development programme to provide inputs such as seed and fertiliser. This will increase production over the next one to two years," said Mr Soi.

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