Munya puts sugar cartels on notice in reforms push


Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

The government has vowed to eradicate cartels exploiting sugarcane farmers.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya termed as unfortunate that unscrupulous businessmen are making huge profits at the expense of farmers who toil to produce the key raw material for the manufacturing of the sweetener.

“We cannot allow the situation where a farmer who has used his energy and resources to farm and develop the cash crop ends up with nothing,” he said.

Mr Munya pointed out they will continue to implement President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive and clean up the once-lucrative sector which has been riddled with a myriad of challenges.

“The government will do everything in its capacity to restore the confidence of farmers who had abandoned the cash crop and restore the profitability of the sector,” he said.

He noted that the sugarcane, coffee and tea sector has the potential of transforming the country’s economy.

“The lives of at least 80 percent of Kenyans depend on the agricultural sector and we cannot afford to abandon it [because of] a few individuals,” he said.

His sentiment comes in the backdrop of protests from cane growers who accuse the government of failing to rein in the cartels that are holding them at ransom.

While the price of sugar continues to soar at a record high level, the Muhoroni branch Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmer's secretary Noah Opiyo said farmers are not properly remunerated.

“We agreed that the price of cane should be adjusted each time there is an increase in the price of sugar.

“Unfortunately, nothing has changed over the past three years as we have witnessed the sugarcane prices going down from Sh4,310 in the year 2016 or thereabouts to the current price of Sh3,700.

Mr Opiyo noted that sugar price has increased to Sh6,500 per 50kg bag, translating to Sh130,000 per tonne.

“If you calculate you will realise that the sugarcane prices should now be pegged at Sh5,500 for farmers to also benefit from the fruits of their labour,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association (KESGA) has petitioned CS Munya to intervene and increase the price of sugarcane.

KESGA secretary-general Richard Ogendo accused millers of deliberately colluding to exploit them and stagnating the price at Sh3700.

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