Keniya: Farmers blame Agriculture Food Authority for sugarcane scarcity

Nairobi : Sugarcane farmers in the Western region are blaming the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) for the shortage of sugarcane which has resulted in halting operations of sugar mills, according to Nation.Africa.

The AFA has allowed the factories to operate without setting up sugarcane plantations which have resulted in a scarcity of the cane crop, allege farmers from Busia and Kakamega counties.

Around 300 farmers met in Namayiakola, in Matungu Constituency, and questioned the AFA for allowing Mumias Sugar Factory to start operations without setting the base for raw materials.

Mr. Patrick Mudialo, a farmer hailing from Namayiakalo, highlighted that one of the prerequisites for obtaining a milling license is for the miller to establish a sufficient raw material foundation capable of supporting factory operations. Mr. Mudialo expressed his surprise at the fact that the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) did not seem to consider the requirement of cane cultivation when granting a license to Mumias, operating under the Sarrai Group, for commencing milling activities.

Sarrai Group, headquartered in Uganda, assumed control of Mumias Sugar’s operations in December 2021. Remarkably, Mumias Sugar was able to initiate production within six months. AFA records indicated that, as of December 2021, the miller had cultivated sugarcane on a mere 274 hectares.

Mr. Mudialo raised a valid question: how did Mumias Sugar manage to cultivate sugarcane that matured within such a short span of six months, facilitating factory operations for a whole year? This query was also echoed by Mr. Joseph Mulama from Matungu. He lamented the adverse impact of the factory closures on people’s livelihoods, emphasizing that numerous individuals had lost their jobs due to the absence of sugarcane. Mr. Mulama attributed this issue to AFA’s oversight.

In response, the farmers are now advocating for all mills situated in the Western region to conduct a comprehensive sugarcane survey as mandated by the government. They are calling for the results of these surveys to be made public.


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