Cane farmers in the Nyando sugar belt want the government to implement the pledge to revive the ailing sugar sector and ignore opposition targeting the national sugar task force.
They said they stand to lose the most if the government does not act decisively to contain attacks directed at the sugar task force whose intention is to scuttle the efforts by the state to revive millers.
“It is the government’s obligation to ascertain the viability of the state millers and to ensure that cane farmers are protected from forces that are against the welfare of the small scale cane farmer,” said Noah Opiyo who is the Muhoroni branch secretary of Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers.
The new impetus by the government to revamp the sugar industry first ran into headwinds after a section of farmers in the sugar belt region opposed the government-led initiative and formed a parallel task force to conduct a farmers’ based assessment of the woes ailing the sector.
Opiyo, however, reiterated that differences emerging between a section of the farmers’ representatives and the government over the composition of the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri – appointed task force must not be allowed to overshadow the purpose of the committee.
The farmers’ concerns come only a few days after Kiunjuri blamed sugar cartels for working in cahoots with the parallel task force to jeopardise the government plans of getting the limping sugar industry back to its feet.
Opiyo while speaking to the press in Muhoroni called on farmers in the Nyando belt to declare their unreserved support for the government’s revival plans for the sugar factories and to publicly denounce any groups bent on curtailing the process.
“Sugar cane farmers must keep vigil and ensure that they support and jealously guard plans to restore sanity to the sugar sector from whatever schemes that may be hatched to cripple such efforts,” he said
He further urged the government to make public the findings of an audit report on irregular tendering at Muhoroni factory after allegations that the management could be deliberately sitting on the report to cover the rot at the factory.
By Milton Onyango