Sugar millers call for effective policies
Players in the sugar sector have bemoaned the lack of effective polices that has led to the decline of the sugar industry.
Rocked to its core, the players in the sector say lack of legislation especially on farming has led to inefficient supply of sugarcane.
Nzoia Sugar Managing Director Godfrey Wanyonyi said the lack of planning has seen operation costs soar, making the sector inefficient.
“I think as an industry there was a planning lapse in terms of cane availability. So you find we are not getting as much cane as we require,” Mr Wanyonyi said.
Currently, production is dominated by small-scale farmers factor players in the sector say is unsustainable.
Most farmers plant cane that takes two years to mature while other countries in the region are able to have year round supply of cane.
Mumias Sugar Company Chief Executive Officer Errol Johnston said years of land subdivision had also meant farmers’ acreage for farming has dropped a factor that has led to decreased earnings.
“The overall problem with the industry in terms of cost of production is the size of the farm. In Mumias area, the farm average is 0.4 hectares which is not commercially viable,” Mr Johnston said.
For long the sector had been dominated by state owned sugar mills, with private mills slowly taking over.
The Ministry of Agriculture has been piling pressure on public sugar mills to operate profitably after dismissing claims that the country is not suited for commercial sugar production.
“That narrative of Kenya is not a viable place for sugar has now been proved wrong. We now have a good number of private mills that have established their operations in the same region and they are making money,” Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said during the Statehouse summit on Agriculture in August.
Players in the sector say while reforms in the industry have been put in place, the lack of policies governing sugar production have made the sector uncompetitive.
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