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Butali farmers agitate for better cane prices

By - | Oct 4th 2012 | 2 min read


A crisis is looming at Butali Sugar Company if talks on better cane prices do not yield fruit soon.

Farmers through the Butali Sugarcane Outgrowers Company (Bosco) want the miller to increase cane price from Sh3,900 to Sh4,500 per tonne.

A stalemate over negotiations might paralyse operations at the new sugar firm.

Bosco chairman William Kopi said he had several meetings with the miller but nothing concrete has been forthcoming.

Kopi explained negotiations for increment for cane delivered started last year.

“Our suggestion has always been the price is raised from Sh3,900 per tonne to Sh4,500 but we are yet to get a breakthrough,” Mr Kopi told The Standard.

West Kenya Sugar Company pays Sh3,900 per tonne followed by Mumias who pay Sh3,825while farmers who deliver cane to Nzoia Sugar Factory go home with Sh3,800 per tonne.

Contacted, the company’s Managing Director Jayant Patel said there was no crisis at the mill, adding the negotiations would yield positive results. “I don’t foresee a crisis because we are committed to talks with farmers’ representatives and we will agree,” he added. He noted the management valued farmers and would not soil their good relationship.

“The negotiations are on and such talks cannot reach an agreement in one day. I want to assure farmers that all will be well,” he added.

Said Patel: “We don’t want any collision with farmers as this would hurt our operations.”

?Kopi appealed to industry regulator, Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) to consider empowering cane farmers to afford them a better negotiating environment with sugar millers.

“Currently, efforts by farmers to demand better pay are always frustrated by millers who come up with well-prepared figures showing how much they have assisted in terms of farm inputs,” observed Kopi.

He suggested that KSB begins a programme of providing farmers with farm inputs like cane seedlings, fertiliser and chemicals to cushion farmers from exploitation by millers.

He complained that cane farmers are being underpaid and said they are within their rights to demand for better pay for their produce.

Although the miller pays farmers promptly, he said the payments are not commensurate with the cost of inputs incurred by the cane farmer.

“Even though farmers receive farm inputs from millers, we feel they deserve an increment because they spend more money on their farms,” demanded Kopi.

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