KENYA – The future of Butali Sugar Mills Ltd now lies in the hands of a technical committee formed by the director general of the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA).
AFFA boss Alfred Busolo told the Business Daily that the committee will rule on whether or not the sugar miller’s licence will be withdrawn.
He noted that in respect to the court’s ruling, the mandate of the team will be to review Butali’s application for licensing.
“I can confirm that we have formed a committee and it is currently working on the matter to come up with a decision within the shortest time possible,” said Mr Busolo.
He also confirmed that before any decision is reached, stakeholders will be involved. They include the two millers and farmers’ representatives.
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Kisumu last week, referred the matter to the Kenya Sugar Board which has so far been changed to the Sugar Directorate. The move followed the implementation of the Crops Act which collapsed nearly all agriculture parastatals into one body — AFFA.
Initially, the matter would have been determined by the sugar tribunal, but currently the decision lies with the committee formed by Mr Busolo. However, in future such matters will be dealt with by the Crops Tribunal which is awaiting formation.
Farmers from Kabras region in Kakamega have been trooping to Nairobi since the court ruling to get an assurance from the government that the factory will not be closed.
Cane poaching between the two companies has been rampant, with each miller blaming the other for the vice. The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers (Kuspaw) last week called on the government to intervene in the matter.
Kuspaw secretary-general Francis Wangara and treasurer Dennis Asembo said that the Agriculture ministry should act fast to avoid closure of Butali Sugar Mills, noting that the move will affect many workers who depend on it for their livelihood.
“Initially, the zoning rules were that a company could not be put up 40 kilometres near an existing one. But the rules no longer apply as some companies would still put up weighbridges in others’ zones,” said Mr Wangara.
He added: “In fact, West Kenya has encroached on and is harvesting cane in Mumias, Nzoia and Chemelil zones. The miller has gone as far as putting up weighbridges there. Why are they interfering with Butali’s activities?