Sugarcane farmers tell William Ruto to revive taskforce report

A crane offloads sugarcane from a tractor. FILE PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG

Sugarcane farmers have now called on President-elect William Ruto to prioritise the sub-sector and resuscitate the industry which is the backbone of Western Kenya's economy.

Despite the generation of various recommendations that could jumpstart the sector, they noted that lack of implementation continues to stall the process.

Citing the sugar taskforce report and the Sugar Bill, Kenya Association of Sugarcane and Allied Products (KASAP) chairman Charles Atiang’ Atiang’ called on Dr Ruto to urgently convene a stakeholders’ meeting to kick start the initiatives which he noted are gathering dust.

“For the sugar industry to realise meaningful changes, we need to develop a legal framework to streamline the industry which is currently on its knees,” he said.

Mr Atiang’ noted that the Sugar Bill 2022 which was sponsored by former Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi hangs in the balance after his bid to recapture his seat failed.

“Unfortunately, the bill which sought to ensure that farmers get maximum returns from their sweat got stuck at the Senate,” he said.

The farmers have now vowed to lobby the incoming legislators to push for the revival and passage of the sugar bill which has been delayed since its inception in 2017.

Among others, the bill proposed the establishment of the Kenya Sugar Board to regulate, promote and develop the sugar sub-sector which is currently regulated by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) under the Crops Act.

On the other hand, it also seeks to give farmers more say in the management of sugar factories by giving them a 51 percent shareholding in privatised sugar firms.

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