Kisumu County Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o has called on the national government to prioritize privatizing state-owned sugar companies to enhance their performance and increase profitability.
Nyong’o cited that the state-owned sugar mills have continued to incur huge losses and accumulated debts over the years.
He proposed that the struggling sugar milling factories in the Nyanza sugar belt be leased to private investors to turn around the fortunes of the sector.
“I urge the government to come to the rescue of cane farmers by making a decision to lease these factories to revive the sugar sector,” pleaded the Governor.
Nyong’o who was a member of the Sugar Taskforce Committee formed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta pleaded with President William Ruto’s administration to expedite the implementation of the report’s recommendations released in 2020.
The task force, he said, apart from proposing the privatization of public sugar mills, also provided other recommendations that aim at reviving the sugar industry.
Further, the governor urged the government to inject cash into the sugar industry to cushion the over 100,000 farmers in the lakeside region from perennial losses.
“Let us give our farmers some form of handshake by injecting some money to cushion them from the losses they have incurred for many years to motivate them to continue with production,” Nyong’o stated.
He made the remarks while addressing stakeholders during the inaugural Sugar Industry Innovation Symposium held in Kisumu County.
The County boss observed that the sugar sector is considered a key driver in boosting the region’s socio-economic development by promoting the establishment of roads, schools, shopping centers, and health facilities as well as a source of employment for the locals.
However, Nyong’o decried that the challenges affecting the sector have undermined its profitability and sustainability forcing farmers to abandon cane farming for alternatives.
The region has five state-owned sugar mills, which include; Nzoia, Chemelil, Miwani, Muhoroni and South Nyanza Sugar Companies.
According to the latest data from the Agriculture and Food Authority Sugar Directorate, Kenya’s annual sugar production decreased to approximately 690,000 metric tons in FY 2021/2022, which is far less than the country’s annual demand of 1.15 million metric tons.
The government normally relies on imports from neighboring nations to bridge the local deficit amid rising demand from consumers.
By Robert Ojwang’