Sweet relief as cane growers embrace new sugar regulations

Monday, June 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Sugarcane farming. Photo/Courtesy

MARKET: Sugar cane farmers have welcomed the Crops General Regulation 2020 gazetted last month by Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, saying it will result in a free market for their product.

Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Organisation (KNASFO) said the new measures would enable them to engage in contractual farming which will allow sugarcane farmers engage the highest bidder as opposed to zoning.

“This is a major breakthrough for farmers who will no longer be enslaved to non-performing millers” said Chairman, Saulo Busolo. 

He said zoning made farmers have no recourse which has led public millers to accumulate a debt of over Sh1.7 billion. 

“For the first time farmers will now have an opportunity to engage any miller, outgrower institution, or any person for farming, harvesting transporting, and supply of the sugarcane,” Busolo added. 

Under the new regulations, the cane supply contract will be a matter between the supplier of raw product and the miller of his choice, no third parties.

This is a win for farmers who for a long time had been restricted to non-performing millers, through zoning, incurring heavy losses.

Selfish gains

“Lack of regulations in the sector has disadvantaged farmers as unscrupulous people take advantage of the disorganisation to create instability for selfish gains,” said Busolo. 

The farmers want the creation of a strong apex body to bring order to farmers’ groups at the grassroots and help solve their problems. 

Additionally, they support the establishment of the sugarcane pricing committee that will regulate the costing of farmers’ cane. 

The new regulations provide for the appointment of the stakeholders committee which will determine the parameters of cane pricing which will be based on sucrose quality as opposed to cane weight.

They supported the move to lease State-owned mills, a strategy by the government to help revive ailing factories, but proposed that trustees be formed within the respective mills to guarantee community interests.  

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