Industry players oppose plans to scrap sugar board
Posted Wednesday, December 19 2012 at 20:05
- Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Authority (ALFA) 2012 Bill seeks to streamline the operations of the sector under a lean body in a bid to improve efficiency.
- The sugar industry faces a raft of challenges, including increased competition when the preferential quota of duty-free sugar from Comesa expires in March 2014.
- Stakeholders in the sugar industry Thursday urged members of Parliament to reject the Bill.
Players in the sugar industry are opposed to proposals to dissolve the regulator as part of a restructuring of agencies that manage the agricultural sector.
The Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Authority (ALFA) 2012 Bill seeks to streamline the operations of the sector under a lean body in a bid to improve efficiency.
This means some key agencies in the sugar sub-sector — including the regulator, Kenya Sugar Board (KSB), and the Kenya Sugar Research Foundation (Kesref) — would be abolished and their functions reverted back to the parent ministry.
Stakeholders in the sugar industry Thursday urged members of Parliament to reject the Bill.
“We want to appeal against the Bill that was put in place in Parliament without the consent of the sugarcane stakeholders. We want it gotten rid of before the President signs it because it is a great danger to the sugarcane industry at large”, Mr Billy Wanjala, the KSB director for Western Kenya zone said.
The Kenya Sugar Board is charged with regulating, developing and promoting the sugar industry. It also monitors the domestic market to identify and advice on any distortions in the sugar market.
It facilitates arbitration of disputes and ensures equitable pricing of sugarcane and appropriation of proceeds from the disposal of the by-products of sugar production between growers and millers.
Kesref is tasked with providing research support services to sugarcane and millers countrywide.
Mr Charles Atiang’, a representative of the Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association (Kesga), claimed farmers were not consulted on the controversial Bill.
“We are perplexed that an injurious Bill that would abolish the Kenya Sugar Board was presented in Parliament”, he said.
KSB managing director Rosemary Mkok said the Bill, if passed into law, would affect the ongoing programmes initiated by the regulator to boost farmers’ fortunes.
“We protect farmers at all costs from cane poaching and harassment by millers. By introducing the ALFA regulations, farmers will lose a lot of benefits from the sugar board, which would in turn lose greatly when its operations are suddenly halted,” Mrs Mkok said.
The sugar industry faces a raft of challenges, including increased competition when the preferential quota of duty-free sugar from Comesa expires in March 2014.
The industry is also expected to walk through the sale of stakes in five millers in an attempt to attract fresh capital that would be used to revamp aging machinery that have lowered the competitiveness of the sugar sector.