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Millers urged to develop enough sugarcane to sustain factory operations

Western Regional Commissioner (RC), Irungu Macharia, has urged sugar millers in western Kenya, to self-regulate, to resolve the stand-off surrounding the poaching of cane.

Speaking during a meeting with the millers, a section of farmers, and the security team from the Western Region, the RC said the lack of enough cane has forced some millers to poach and even sometimes harvest immature cane.

He urged the millers to invest in cane development that could sustain their factories, warning that poaching would not be allowed.

Macharia asked them to operate within their catchment areas, adhere to Ton of Cane Per Day (TCD) per factory, pay farmers on time, take care of farmers’ welfare, and adhere to standard cane supply contracts.

“As we review the contracts, sugar millers are supposed to submit to the Sugar Directorate, a register of registered, contracted sugarcane farmers and you have up to February 1st ,to share the inventory of farmers,” he added.

During the meeting, millers raised concerns about other millers poaching the cane they had invested in, making them lose millions of monies in investment.

The RC said the security team, will be on standby to enforce the regulations, to bring sanity in the sugar sector and asked all millers, to partner with the National Government Administration Officers(NGAO), to sensitize farmers against poaching, in order to improve sugarcane industry.

He also ordered the immediate closure of weighbridges and cane-buying centers outside a miller’s region and issued a ban on the transportation of cane at night, as it posed a danger to other road users.

A farmer, David Opala, from Kakamega County, said that cases of poaching increase when millers fail to support the farmers and take care of them when they have urgent needs, forcing a farmer to opt to supply the produce to other factories.

Another farmer from Busia, Shaban Wandera, asked the millers to ensure they participate in maintaining road infrastructure in the areas where they transport cane from.

Millers that attended the meeting included Mumias Sugar Company, Olepito and Busia Sugar Company, both from the Lower Region and West Kenya, Butali, Naitiri and Nzoia companies from the Upper Region.

They agreed to operate within their areas through the Memorandum of Understanding for each catchment area and adhere to each miller allocated Ton of Cane Per Day(TCD).

Western Regional Police Commander, Kiprono Langa’t, issued a warning to those transporting cane at night to stop, saying they are posing a danger to road users.

He said the transporters are supposed to put reflectors on their trucks, to enhance visibility to other motorists.

By Moses Wekesa

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