We will revive the sugar sector through leasing and not privatization, Ruto insists

President William Ruto during Kakamega International Investment conference at MMUST on March 20, 2024. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

President William Ruto has vowed to streamline the sugar industry by leasing state-owned sugar mills.

He said his administration was keen on leasing the mills as opposed to privatising them. Speaking in Kakamega on Wednesday after opening the county's International Investment Conference (KAIICO), Ruto said the country ought to change how the sugar sub-sector is managed.

According to him, the sugar industry has been managed the same way over the last two decades and counting.

“We are going to change the way the industry is managed. We have danced with this sector for the last 25 years. I am announcing here that we are not going to privatise our industry but to lease the sugar millers so that private investors can pump in money and we are going to terminate the contract if we feel things are not going the way they are supposed to go in helping the farmer, factory and country,” said Ruto.

He added: “We must stop importing sugar and other goods, we spent Sh500 billion yearly on imports. Our legislators must listen carefully, we are going to pump a lot of resources into the cane development programme so that our farmers can grow enough sugarcane for us, as a country to produce enough sugar.”

The President said moving forward, like any other sector, sugarcane farmers will be paid a bonus at the end of the year by sugar millers. “I have seen some characters going to court and they think they will manage, we must free the sugarcane farmers from a few people taking this sector hostage,” said Ruto.

The government has set aside Sh300 million in the upcoming supplementary budget to offset arrears of Nzoia sugar factory. Elsewhere, West Kenya Sugar Company is set to invest Sh1.2 billion in cane development to ensure availability of adequate raw materials.

This was revealed on Wednesday during the ongoing Kakamega International Investment Conference at MMUST.

The factory disclosed that it invested Sh900 million in outgrower farms leading to the development of 33,000 acres under sugarcane last year across over ten counties.

West Kenya Sugar Company’s Oscar Shiverenje said they are committed to supporting farmers. 

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