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Sugar task force report sails through

Andrew Tuimur
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Andrew Tuimur. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The sugar task force report has been validated, paving the way for implementation of a raft of measures that the government has proposed for the revival of the ailing sector.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Andrew Tuimur said stakeholders agreed on the contentious issues that nearly jeopardised validation of the report ahead of the Monday deadline.

Farmers on Saturday opposed sections of the report, especially the one on cane zones.

“The stakeholders agreed on most of the issues and the report was validated on Saturday,” said Dr Tuimur in an interview.

The CAS said the report will be presented to President Kenyatta later this week or next week depending on the State House schedule.

The task force was meant to finish its work in January but the timelines were interrupted after farmers rejected a stakeholders' meeting that was to be held with the members of the committee. The cane producers demanded payment of their dues before agreeing to meeting the team.

Late last year, Mr Kenyatta ordered the Agriculture ministry to relook cane and sugar pricing mechanisms, review importation and taxation structures, and get consensus on the fate of State-owned millers.

The task force, which is led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, appointed last October by the ministry to spearhead reforms, said it suspended the public participation forums “until the State releases the Sh2.7 billion owed to farmers.”

Payment of arrears

So far the government has released more than Sh2 billion towards the payment of the arrears that have been accumulating for the last couple of years.

The payment enabled the task force to meet the growers in three regions on what they want for revival of the ailing industry.

The maize task force validated its report last month but it is yet to be made public.

The government is keen to revive agriculture and is using the task force committee's report to address the plight of farmers.

There has been another parallel sugar task force that has been collecting views from farmers.

Officials of the Sugar Campaign for Change have been moving across the country seeking views from farmers and they had said they would hand in their findings to Kilimo House.

However, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said he would not receive the report from the lobby.

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