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Busia leaders warn sugar millers against exploiting farmers

Busia leaders have given firm warning to Sugar millers against violating the rules set by the ministry of agriculture on cane prices in the country.

Led by Nambale MP John Bunyasi, Agriculture Financial Corporation Managing Director Lucas Meso, and Former Funyula MP Dr. Paul Otwoma they raised concern over millers allowing middlemen to take advantage of farmers’ poverty situation to manipulate the prices to their advantage.

This comes even at the time anticipated that the country is likely to face the shortage of sugar in the near future of about 677,584 tonnes as reported by Agriculture and Food Authority.

“Middlemen conspire with the millers to buy cane from the farmers at a lower price violating the agreement with the farmers and also overlooking the price set per term by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr Peter Munya,” said Bunyasi.

He raised the complaint of millers neglecting and ignoring cane from the farmers in the county but rather giving advantage to the brokers who frustrate the efforts made by farmers.

“We are receiving the complaints that Sugar factories are now opting to buy cane from Kakamega and Bungoma Counties despite signing agreement with farmers during planting time,” said Bunyasi.

He added that farmers are facing the problem of cane lying on farm despite being mature. “The biggest problem the farmers are facing is canes ready for harvest still on the firm despite several pleas from the farmers to the firms to harvest. The factories have also stopped buying from the farmers instead they are sourcing cane from outside,” Bunyasi said.

Otwoma lamented the business of middlemen being involved in sugarcane farming has affected the entire process leaving the farmers frustrated. He urged the Sugar firms to engage in genuine business that will help both parties.

Otwoma vowed to help farmers to benefit from their efforts and products as the chairman of Sugarcane Privatization in the region.

Lucas Meso assured farmers he was ready as a leader in the region and also as a farmer, to engage with all the millers in the county to iron out the differences.

“You are in the Busia County courtesy of these poor farmers. Please buy cane directly from them to boost their economic status. You have all it takes to do this,” said Meso.

Responding to the leaders, Busia Sugar Managing Director Ali Taib said his factory can’t stop buying cane from outside as long as farmers from other counties deliver cane voluntarily.

By Absalom Namwalo

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