Sugarcane farmers in Bungoma County have been challenged to stop relying on the crop as their main source of income due to its dwindling fortunes.
An Economic expert and a graduate of the London School of Economics, Edward Kisaka, advised cane farmers to diversify their farming activities by switching to other cash crops for increased income.
Speaking to KNA on Monday, Kisaka noted that the sugar industry was facing major crisis of shortage of the raw materials and lack of market for the produce and stressed the need for farmers to diversify their farming and also venture into other income generating activities. “Growing of the crop is also no longer viable because of the pressure on land,” he added.
He explained that sugarcane farming does best when undertaken on large scale adding most farmers have been recording negative returns because of the small parcels of land.
Currently the farmers who are contracted by Nzoia Sugar Company have not been paid for their crop deliveries since the beginning of January this year.
The Company Board of Directors’ Chairman, Joash Wamang’oli attributed the problem to financial difficulties ranging from lack of sugarcane and market for the product caused by cheap imports of sugar.
In a related development, the Kenya national federation of sugarcane farmers supports plans by the government to privatize the state owned sugar miller.
The Chief Executive Officer, Francis Waswa said part of the reasons for the Parastatals’ poor performance is over establishment influenced by political leaders and corruption.
He said privatization would enable hiring of competent technical people to set specific targets to be met within certain periods for the benefit of the farmers who have been ignored for a long time.
Waswa demanded for actualization of the move by the government to write off the more than Sh. 25billion that Nzoia Sugar Company owes creditors to facilitate smooth handing over to private companies.
Wanjala Makokha was recently appointed the new managing director of cash-strapped sugar Company replacing Michael Kulundu who died in March. Kulundu was attacked by unknown people on January 2 and later succumbed to the injuries in a Nairobi hospital on March 7.
By Roseland Lumwamu