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Trans Mara Sugarcane farmers asked diversify

Sugarcane farmers in Trans Mara West Sub County of Narok County have been urged to practice mixed crop farming to diversify their income and boost nutrition.

Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Chairman Stephen Ole Narupa challenged farmers to stop relying on sugarcane farming as their only source of income but plant other short term maturing crops for household consumption and income generation.

He asked farmers to subdivide their pieces of land to ensure they plant all types of crops as well as rear livestock, as sugarcane takes over 18 months to mature.

“Farmers need to be wise, as their families need a constant supply of food. This is why you should partition part of your land to plant short-term crops that will provide food for humans and livestock,” said Ole Narupa.

Ole Narupa added that his association will train farmers on how to improve their sugarcane production as they educate them on the contracts they sign with sugar companies.

“From next year, we are going to have farmers training forums to enlighten them on the details in the contract sheets that they sign with the sugar companies. The farmers will also be taken through the legal rights they are entitled to,” he said.

The chairman also asked sugarcane farmers not to overrely on the millers to provide farm inputs, as they dictate the timing and prices of selling their mature sugarcane.

Overreliance on a single miller, he added, limits the farmer’s ability to sell their products to other millers who could be buying them at a higher price.

“Plant your sugarcane without taking any inputs (fertiliser, seed cane, and machinery services) from any sugar company; this will help you when you want to sell your product to the miller of your choice, as no one will dictate the time to harvest,” said Ole Narupa.

Most farmers in Trans Mara sell their sugarcane to TransMara Sugar Company; however, in the recent past, other companies like Sony Sugar and Ndhiwa Sugar have shown interest in purchasing the sugarcane.

By Ann Salaton and John Lebunge

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