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Reinstate Kenya Sugar Board, sugarcane farmers’ plea to Government

Sugarcane farmers from Western Kenya have supported the reinstatement of the Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) to regulate the sector directly instead of operating through Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

They argued that research on sugarcane seed varieties was affected by the dissolution of the board, setting stage for the proliferation of illegal imports.

Speaking today during a public participation by the Senate standing committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on Sugar Bill 2022 at the Kakamega social hall, stakeholders in the sugar sector said the Sugar Directorate under AFA Act .2013 lacked the autonomy to address challenges in the sugar industry.

The farmers also want the Kenya Sugar Board head office moved from Nairobi to western Kenya region in order to serve farmers better.

The stakeholders have also suggested the reinstatement of the Sugar Development Levy to consolidate monies raised from the sale of sugar to invest in sugar development research.

Speaking at the forum, the Secretary-General of Kenya National Federation of Sugar Cane Farmers Kilion Osur Anyango while supporting zoning sugarcane, said that farmers should be free to supply their cane to whichever mill they preferred, as long as they did not have a contract with another mill.

“Independent farmers should have 3-4 sugar mills within a region from which they will have freedom to supply their cane instead of being zoned to a particular mill,” he added.

The stakeholders told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries chaired by Kirinyanga Senator Mr. James Murango Kamau that sugar reforms should include strict guidelines on importation of sugar into the country.

Kakamega Senator Bony Khalwale said in the event of sugar shortage in the country, farmers’ sugarcane out growers’ associations should be allowed to import 50 percent of sugar.

His sentiments were supported by farmers who said the same has been left to cartels who have flooded the local market with cheap sugar.

Bungoma Senator David Wakoli and Nominated Senator Beth Syengo, who are the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee attended the meeting.

Senator Kamau said the Senate was keen to have input of stakeholders before Parliament passes the Bill into law.

By George Kaiga

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