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Economy

West Kenya Sugar wins cane row with Mumias

The sugarcane farmers of Mumias may be poor, but they are not foolish. FILE PHOTO |
The sugarcane farmers of Mumias may be poor, but they are not foolish. FILE PHOTO |   NATION MEDIAS GROUP

West Kenya Sugar Company has won a long running dispute with Mumias Sugar over the purchase of cane in Busia County.

The High Court sitting in Kakamega on Wednesday allowed West Kenya to start buying cane from farmers in the county from January next year.

The plaintiffs — John Marango, Venswa Okwara Mutoka, Dismas Ochungo Ekeyo Celestine Sakwa Nyongesa, Oditi Inyasi and Mumias sugar — had sought orders to permanently restrain West Kenya from buying cane from Busia farmers and from operating a weighbridge in the area.

Mumias Sugar had protested West Kenya buying cane in the area saying it (Mumias Sugar) had contracted most of the growers.

Justice Said Chitembe, however, said West Kenya should not buy cane from the area for the next 60 days in order to diffuse tension sparked off by the alleged poaching of cane from fields contracted by Mumias Sugar.

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The High Court further allowed West Kenya sugar to recruit farmers in Busia during the two months.

Mr Chitembe ruled that West Kenya could not be completely shut from operating in the sugar zone since such a decision would amount to creating an exclusive zone for some millers.

He said it was up to contracted farmers to honour their obligations by ensuring that they do not breach agreements adding that the Sugar Act does not exclude a miller from buying cane outside their designated zones as long as the cane was not from farmers contacted to another miller.

In his ruling, the judge said the loss of 35,048 tonnes of cane amounting to Sh20 million could not be entirely attributed to West Kenya given the the competition for cane in the belt.

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