A meeting of industry players held in Kakamega on Monday resolved that West Kenya Sugar Company and Butali Sugar Mills would co-exist to boost competition.
The resolutions, which were made by more than 3,000 farmers and 12 elected leaders from the region, noted that the four-year operations of Butali had been of immense economic benefit.
“Butali Sugar Mills has developed in excess of 52,000 acres of cane cultivated by 33,000 farmers. These farmers shall suffer in the event that an operating licence is not issued,” said the interim AFFA boss Alfred Busolo who read the resolutions.
But West Sugar, which boycotted the Kakamega meeting, has vehemently opposed operations of Butali with its management vowing to block the rival’s application for a licence in court.
A week ago, the Court of Appeal, acting on an application by West Kenya, reversed an earlier decision by the High Court okaying the licensing of Butali Sugar. The court, however, left it to a tribunal to resolve Butali’s application.
Industry players who attended the Kakamega meeting said the competitive environment resulting from operation of the two millers has resulted in better payments to farmers.
In the resolutions, Mr Busolo noted that the full potential of cane farming is yet to be exploited as evidenced by the expansion into the neighbouring counties of Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Nandi and Uasin Gishu.
On Monday, West Kenya instructed its lawyers to begin legal proceedings against AFFA and other industry players who attended the Kakamega meeting saying the forum fell short of standards anticipated by the court’s directive.
Area MP Ayub Savula said they will fight any attempt by the West Kenya to close the operations of the rival miller.
“We will ask farmers to boycott the delivery of cane to West Kenya should they make further attempts to undermine the existence of Butali Mills,” said Mr Savula.