Ruto will revive Nzoia as payback for the votes we gave him, Bungoma leaders

SpeakerMoses Wetang'ula, Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka at a public rally in Mt Elgon. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

Mr Wanyama urged CS Linturi to appoint a new board of management to run the company which has been operating without a substantive board for years.

Nzoia sugar has been struggling to sustain its 751 permanent employees and another 2,000 casuals.

The sugar mill has also been unable to pay farmers promptly with Mr Wanyama regretting that that firm has normalised delayed payment for cane deliveries and salaries. The MP said the workers have gone without pay for ten months.

Mr Linturi said he was new in the ministry to make quick fixes as was being demanded by the leaders and workers' representatives.

Nonetheless, the CS committed to looking into the ailing sugar factory's woes and helping it return to profitability.

"I am committed just like the president is to reviving this factory, allow me to familiarise myself with the reports that document its troubles and I come back soon to offer a lasting solution. Just know that Nzoia's troubles are temporary with me at the helm of the Agriculture ministry," said Linturi.

Nzoia Sugar Company managing director Crispin Omondi said the factory, with a sugarcane crushing capacity of 3,000 tons of cane per day was of poor mechanical shape and had gone long without routine maintenance.

The factory currently requires 15 tonnes of cane to produce just one ton of sugar leading to losses according to Dr Omondi.

Usually, ten tonnes of sugarcane should be able to produce one tonne of sugarcane for the factory to make a profit according to Dr Omondi.

Nzoia Sugar Company managing director Crispin Omondi. [File, Standard]

Challenges bedevilling the Nzoia sugar that was established in 1978 saw former Kanduyi MP draft legislation seeking to have state-owned sugar factories receive financial support from the government.

The Sugar Bill which was passed by both the National assembly and the senate proposes a raft of reforms like the gazettement of the sugar sector regulations including import rules, amendment of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Act, and Crops Act in line with the Constitution.

It also proposes strict compliance with the COMESA regulations and outlined a raft of measures needed to increase the sugar sector's productivity, and a review of the taxation regime in the sector to enhance investor incentives.

Last year the government pumped some Sh 500 million to help the course of its revival.

Some Sh284 million went towards offsetting a portion of the farmers' debts and Sh 216 million went to factory maintenance.