Sugar miller plans to construct new factory in Siaya


Farmers harvest sugarcane in Kisumu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A local firm is seeking the approval of the environmental watchdog to construct a new sugar factory in Siaya County.

Seal Sugar Mill says it is looking for a green light from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to build the factory in Alego Usonga sub county, which is suitable for sugar cane production.

It will be the first major agricultural project five years after American-owned rice farm Dominion closed shop in Siaya nine months after its American founder, Calvin Burgess, accused the area's leaders of extortion.

A Kisumu businessman and owner of Foam Mattresses Limited had separately in 2017 announced plans to build a Sh940 million sugar factory in Siaya County but the South Gem Sugar Factory in Kanyilaji village is yet to be operational.

Seal Sugar Mill says its new factory to be established on 18,400 acres of land is expected to create 1,200 jobs, according to regulatory filings submitted by the firm offering jobs relief for locals.

Once complete the new sugar factory will have an initial milling capacity of 1250 tonnes of cane per day (TCD) to be expanded to 2,500 tonnes of canes per day in future. It will also produce three megawatts of renewable energy.

"Seal Sugar Mill Ltd will use fresh bagasse to produce about 3 MW of power at its station. However, the power station will only be able to utilise a fraction of the fresh bagasse daily out of the quantities produced from crushing of cane per day," the firm said.

The company says the sugar mill will improve the livelihoods of the local population by establishing small-holder and out-grower support schemes. It will also cut post-harvest losses by reducing the distance it takes to transport cane, the firm says.

Plans for the new sugar factory come at a time when the industry is suffering from low cane production, high costs and stiff competition from cheap sugar imports.

The shortage of raw material has hit struggling State sugar millers particularly hard, but the nimbler, better managed private firms have continued to thrive.

Kenya produces about 600,000 tonnes of sugar a year, compared with annual consumption of 800,000 tonnes.

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