A cane farmer inspects his sugarcane plantation. Stakeholders in the sugar sector have decried President Ruto’s move to import sugar. PHOTO: OKONG’O ODUYA,KTMN

Stakeholders in the sugar sector and sugarcane farmers in Busia County have condemned the move by President William Ruto to allow the importation of sugar outside COMESA countries.

According to the director of Busia Out growers’ Company Mr Lambar Ogochi, the announcement will kill the sugar sector in the country.

Mr Ogochi who is also the national coordinator of the smallholders’ sugar cane farmers Association said that the announcement does not mean well to cane farmers in the Western region adding the region has got enough cane to sustain the sugar mills around.

“The announcement made by President William Ruto to allow the importation of sugar to meet the current sugar shortage will affect the sector negatively. The region has enough canes to run our factories. Last month sugar and Food Authority allowed the closure of all sugar mills in Kenya for three months to allow canes in farms to mature before they resume operations and that does not mean we open the window for sugar importation.”

Lambar Ogochi

He noted that Kenya produces one million metric tons compared to the consumption of 1.3 metric tons of sugar annually which gives room for the importation of 180 metric tons to meet the deficit accusing the president of arriving at the decision without engaging stakeholders.

“We are able to produce 1.3 metric tons of sugar annually but the consumption is 1.3 tones which gives room for the importation of 180 tones but the president’s announcement to allow damping sugar all over the world into the country will affect our sugarcane farmers and our local mills.”

Ogochi

Mr Ogochi blamed leaders from the western region for failing to advise the president on the impact the importation will have on the western economy, being that the region is known for cane farming.

“During the campaign, our Western leaders promised to revive the Mumias sugar factory, but how will they revive it when they are importing sugar into the country? Over 7 million people have benefited directly and indirectly from cane farming in Western and Nyanza regions allowing excessive importation of sugar in the country will affect their livelihood,” he paused

According to him, they will be heading to court to challenge the announcement stating that the only way to address the sugar shortage in Kenya is to reduce the cost of production which means reducing the price of farm inputs.

“As leaders in the sugarcane sector, we are heading to court to challenge the announcement as an excuse for reducing sugar prices. The sugar prices can be addressed by reducing the cost of production and that will offer a lasting solution not importing excessive sugar into the country,” he noted

By IAN BYRON

Managing Editor, Writer and Political Affairs Enthusiast

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