Trans Nzoia is considering enacting a law that will bar farmers in the county from planting sugarcane, arguing the crop is unprofitable.
Governor Patrick Khaemba said he would not accept sugarcane farming despite his government efforts to urge locals diversify from cultivation of maize.
He said his government would be compelled to enact legislation to stop growing of the cash crop in the county.
“Agents of sugarcane farming are also agents of poverty. You can clearly see the pathetic livelihoods of locals in sugarcane growing zones,” said Mr Khaemba.
Farmers have protested the plans.
Kenya National Farmers Federation chairman in Trans Nzoia William Kimosong said the county government should limit itself to offering agricultural advice to farmers.
“It will be unfair for the county government to deny farmers who wish to grow sugarcane a chance to do so through such laws,” he said.
Saboti MP David Wafula said enacting such a law would be irrelevant because the county already has sugarcane farmers who are reaping benefits from the cash crop.
“I advise our county government to only enlighten our people on why they should not grow the crop, but leave the final decision to individual farmers,” he told the Business Daily.
Mr Khaemba said Trans Nzoia’s soils are not suitable for sugarcane farming. “Even if we grow sugarcane, the harvest will have low sucrose content, which will not be attractive to millers. Let’s be honest to our farmers,” he said.
Debate over sugarcane farming in Trans Nzoia comes as Kenya prepares to lobby the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to restrict cheaper imports from the trading bloc.