New sugarcane prices fail to excite farmers

Cane cutters harvest sugar cane in Kakamega county on July 12, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Sugar milling firms have raised the price of sugarcane from Sh4,480 per tonne to Sh4,563 per tonne, effective April 29.

While some of the farmers interviewed in Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma and parts of Nyanza welcomed the move, saying the new price will encourage increased production of the crop, they faulted the Sh83 increment as minimal.

“It is a step in the right direction but the increment is a drop in the ocean, it has to be revised further,” said Samuel Simiyu, a farmer from Navakholo constituency.

West Kenya Sugar Company based in Kakamega North, and Nzoia sugar company in Bungoma county have already notified farmers of the adjusted prices.

“We would like to notify you that the price of sugarcane has been adjusted effective April 29,” announced Nzoia sugar management through its official social media page on April 29.

A cane pricing committee that was constituted by the Sugar Directorate announced the new price on April 22.

Cane farmers have two representatives on the committee, namely Francis Waswa from the Western sugar belt and Charles Etyang’ from the Nyanza sugar zone.

Also represented are sugar milling factories, the Kenya Sugar Manufacturers Association and the Ministry of Agriculture. The Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers said the Sh83 increment was a slap on the face of the farmers.

“The increment is negligible given the fact that a farmer spends slightly over Sh6,000 on production of one tonne of sugarcane,” said Simon Wesechere, the federation’s deputy secretary general.

“We urge the sugar directorate to reconvene this early and review the cane prices to at least Sh6,000 per tonne so that farmers can benefit from the venture,” Mr Wesechere told The Standard yesterday.

He said the sugar directorate must also push sugar mills to implement the current price, “as they plan to review the prices further.”

According to him, sugar factories must pay farmers Sh4,563 per tonne effective April 22 and not April 29 as most of them are doing.

“Sugar mills must comply with the sugar directive, rogue factories ought to be dealt with accordingly because farmers continue to suffer,” said Mr Wesechere.