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Economy

Farmers’ lobby wins first round in sugar rules case

The High Court has temporarily stopped implementation of new regulations aimed at reviving the ailing sugar sector.
The High Court has temporarily stopped implementation of new regulations aimed at reviving the ailing sugar sector. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The High Court has temporarily stopped implementation of new regulations aimed at reviving the ailing sugar sector.

In his ruling, Justice Roselyne Aburiri ordered that implementation of the Crops (Sugar) General) Regulations, 2020 be stopped pending the hearing and determination of a case filed by a farmers’ lobby group.

“Undoing an implemented regulation will be an uphill task and will render the pending petition nugatory and the petitioner will be rendered a mere pious explorer in the pursuit of justice,” said judge Aburiri.

The judge said the government will not suffer any prejudice with issuance of the interim order compared to the petitioners.

The order was directed to the Attorney General, Agriculture secretary and the Agriculture and Food Authority, who are the respondents in the petition filed by Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers.

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The farmers’ lobby group is challenging the regulations that were gazetted by Agriculture CS Peter Munya on May 27, this year to pave way for changes in the sugar sector.

The regulations provide for introduction of contractual farming in a bid to promote free market for cane and establishment of Sugarcane Pricing Committee.

The committee will be charged with, among other things, ensuring equitable returns to the growers and millers, determining the sugarcane pricing formula and conducting testing services to determine the sucrose content of sugarcane and hence the price for the produce.

The government is implementing payment to farmers based on the quality, moving away from the weight-based regime.

This is one of the conditions that the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) want Kenya to implement before the sugar sector is liberalised to allow more imports, which is above the current quota of 350,000 tonnes annually. The regulations also provide that registered millers may organise themselves into an association.

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