The process of licensing another sugar factory in Busia has gained momentum after the environment watchdog received an assessment report for the proposed Busia Sugar Factory.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has invited the public to submit comments regarding the environmental impact study.
The Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) has already registered three companies that should start milling, producing ethanol and power co-generation once they are licensed. These are the Busia, West Kenya and Mundika sugar factories.
KSB chief executive Rosemary M’kok says there is a need for different players in the market in order to create efficiency that results from competition.
“We are happy that Nema is moving with speed to ensure the proposed factory meets all the requirements. Farmers will benefit in the presence of new players in this industry,” said Ms M’kok.
She said an evaluation carried out prior to registration of the three companies indicated that the area had a potential to accommodate additional factories.
She pointed out that monopolies had contributed to the misery of farmers, especially in late payments, giving the example of Mumias Sugar Company which she says has not paid farmers dues for the past four months despite having different revenue streams.
Ms M’kok urged the factories to widen their sources of revenue to avoid overreliance on sugar.
The CEO says the licensing process for the new factory will take at least 24 months.
“After meeting the entire requirements and proving to us the availability of cane to mill, we will issue them with a license for the operations,” she said.
An application by Mumias early this year to put up an additional plant in the region was rejected by the regulator, citing that the potential of the area — estimated at 5,000 tonnes of cane per day — had been exhaustively allocated to earlier applicants in mid-2012.
The Busia miller, owned by the Africa Polysack Limited, is expected to produce approximately 900,000 tonnes of sugarcane, translating to 94,380 tonnes of milled white sugar.