KENYA – Nzoia Sugar Company has halted its operations temporarily for four months due to an acute shortage of sugarcane as it explores alternative sources for raw materials.

The acting managing director Hezron Kotut said Nzoia Sugar Company has instructed non-essential employees to cease work, clarifying that the suspension does not amount to laying off any factory worker.

“To ensure an adequate supply of sugarcane, a lean staff from Agriculture and the Agricultural Serviced Department will be tasked with Cane Development, as stated in the memo,” Kotut said.

“Following this development, we have encouraged our staff to proceed on leave up to November 30, except for those working in critical areas.”

In the four months of closure, the factory plans to continue with sugarcane development activities in its nucleus estates to ensure an adequate supply of raw materials in the near future, he added.

A consultation meeting between Agriculture and Food Authority and sugar millers in Kisumu resolved to suspend sugar production for two months effective July 14 to allow sugarcane to regenerate.

The situation on status of cane maturity will be reviewed after two months with a view to resuming operations at the earliest possible opportunity.

Meanwhile, Nzoia Sugar’s board chairman Alfred Khang’ati disclosed that preparations are underway for the revamping of the factory as promised by the president through the installation of a new milling machine before the year ends.

The two mills, to be installed by the national government, will stabilize the operations of the sugar factory, and improve its crushing capacity.

The company intends to enhance the factory capacity to 7000 TCD and 735 tons of Sugar per day from 315 tons of sugar per day.

Khang’ati also asked sugarcane farmers to avoid selling their cane to unscrupulous dealers who offer them less for the value of their crop.

“Some of these milling companies weigh scales are tempered with, you will find that cane that weighs 20 tonnes in our scales will weigh 15 tonnes elsewhere hence farmers get shortchanged,” he said.

The sugarcane shortage has forced most millers to scale down production while others like Mumias Sugar Company, which is under receivership, halted operations two months ago.

West Kenya Sugar Company and Butali Sugar Mills announced the stoppage of their milling plant last week.

For all the latest food industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.