KENYA – In a resounding display of commitment to the revival of Kenya’s sugar industry, governors representing counties within the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) are pushing for the reintroduction of the Kenya Sugar Board and revitalisation of farming in the region.  

At the heart of the discussions was the critical issue of separating the sugar sector from the purview of the Agricultural Food Authority (AFA), which currently oversees all crops in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Governor Fernandes Barasa in Kakamega county, emphasized the importance of addressing this challenge, highlighting the sector’s determination to overcome various obstacles hindering the viability and rejuvenation of the sugar industry.

“Our goal is to delink the sugar board from AFA to ensure proper management and to revive this industry for the benefit of the region’s economy,” he said.

The two-day conference, held at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, attracted 2,500 delegates, including farmers, stakeholders, policymakers, and representatives from the sector.

Farmers have expressed concerns that income generated from sugarcane farming has been redirected to benefit other crops, such as coffee and tea, which have their dedicated boards advocating for the welfare of their farmers.

Farmers argued that the sugar development levy has yielded minimal benefits, leaving farmers and millers to independently address critical issues like soil suitability and seed cane research, among others, under the administration of AFA.

Governor Barasa praised President William Ruto’s commitment to resolving the sector’s issues, including the potential write-off of the Ksh117 billion debt owed by state-owned sugarcane factories and loans extended to sugar millers.

He encouraged farmers to actively participate in the conference, expressing optimism about finding lasting solutions.

Additionally, Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula underscored the conference’s central focus on reviving Mumias Sugar and strategically planning cane farming.

He stressed the significance of ensuring Mumias Sugar’s financial viability and steering investors towards cane cultivation to guarantee an adequate supply of raw materials for the factory’s operation.

Savula attributed Mumias Sugar’s decline to insufficient cane for crushing, resulting in farmers hesitating to engage in unprofitable ventures.

He stressed the conference’s commitment to re-establishing the Mumias out-growers association.

Moreover, he voiced support for President Ruto’s determination to address issues within the sector, including tackling cartels.

“We have to deal with the cartel issue because some court cases have been withdrawn. We support the President in resolving disputes, whether related to management or cartels,” he said.

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