MP calls for regulation of sugar importation

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

Webuye East MP Martin Wanyonyi has asked the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to gazette regulation on the importation of sugar to avert illegal entry of the commodity into the country.

Mr Wanyonyi said that without proper regulation, sugarcane farmers will continue to suffer from unnecessary imports when the millers were churning out millions of bags of sugar across the country.

"We are asking the CS to ensure strict guidelines are followed on the importation of the sugar, we cannot allow a situation where our farmers continue to suffer because of cheap sugar from outside the country," he said during an interview with the Sunday Standard.

The MP claimed that the sugar in circulation branded as local produce was more than what some of the factories were producing.

"You will find more Mumias and Nzoia sugar in the market than what is produced by the factories, that clearly tells you that there are illegal importers, who bring sugar from outside, repackage and sell, at the expense of local millers," he claimed.

He thanked President William Ruto for shelving plans to privatize the sugar companies and asked the CS to ensure that the government releases money to revamp the millers and pay farmers for sugarcane delivered.

On Wednesday, Linturi, said the government had rescinded its decision to sell Nzoia, Mumias, Chemelil, Miwani and Sony sugar factories and instead plans to revamp and return them to profitability.

"We are not going to privatize sugar millers. There is no privatisation going to take place. In fact, those people spearheading the privatisation process are interested in grabbing land around the canes. We are here to protect public property," he said.

The CS was speaking when he met Members of Parliament from the sugar belt region for a consultative meeting on improving the competitiveness of the state-owned sugar mills.

Linturi assured that the government is committed to making millers produce enough sugar.

The CS said there are enough farmers willing to go back to sugarcane farming cane.

"All we need is time, to consult with leaders from sugar farming region and we will give you the model which we want to apply in commercializing those sugar factories and make sure farmers get good prices for their cane," he said.

Wanyonyi noted that some farmers have not been paid for sugarcane delivered for the last four years and they could not continue growing the crop.

"We are asking the government to have short and long-term plans on the sugar sector, one of the priorities in the industry including paying farmers for their sugar cane so that they can have the muscle to go back to the farms, some have been waiting for sugarcane for up to four to five years," he said.

The called on the government to invest in research and come up with early-maturing cane varieties. "Planting sugar cane varieties that take 18 months to mature is stagnating the industry where in other countries that had better varieties that take only 12 months," he said.