Sugarcane farmers want Nyanza MPs to emulate their Western counterparts

By Kennedy Okombo

National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (NFSF) from the Nyanza region has called upon all the MPs from the former Nyanza province to unite and save the sugar industry in the region.

This call comes at a time when almost all the sugar milling companies in the region are on the verge of being privatized. Hardly a week ago MPs from the former Western Province formed a delegation that visited the state house, a move that saw the head of state Uhuru Kenyatta give Sh1 billion to save the sugar industry in the Western Sugar-belt.

Speaking to the press in Migori town, NFSF chairman Ezra Olodi said the legislators ought to have forgotten the political differences that exist between the ruling Jubilee government and the opposition.

“Currently majority of people in Nyanza are employed in the sugar industry and when we see our factories on the verge of closing down, and farmers demoralized then it is time the legislators wake up and smell the coffee that their electorates are suffering,” said Mr Olodi.

He added, “It calls for cooperation with the government and the Migori legislators should in the forefront because Migori County is the epicenter of sugar farming in Nyanza region. We want to see Miwani Company revived, Muhoroni and SONY Company boosted through subsidies.”

He however cautioned against the MPs who have constantly ignored their calls telling them soon they would be seeking re-election in 2017.

“The year 2017 is near, and our leaders may choose to ignore or act on these calls, soon we shall give them score cards telling them what they have done as far as boosting the life of a common man is concerned, we are their employers,” noted Mr Olodi.

He also re-asserted the need for farmers to have 51 percent of the shares should the sugar milling factories be privatized.

The chairman’s sentiments were also echoed by Malachi Ouma, a sugar cane farmer in Uriri, who told KNA that farmers for a long time have been taken for a ride by the sugar milling factories.

“Delayed payments, meager returns and failure to harvest our canes have left us with nothing as farmers who are the foundation of sugar industry. Millers have also resorted to contracting farmers like the tobacco firms, where they only harvest canes from the farmers they contracted, they have left many farmers counting loses by shying from harvesting their canes,” complained Mr Ouma.

Sugar industry has experienced stumbling markets over the past decade following influx of illegally imported cheap sugar in the local markets and high cost of production posing major challenge with a number of millers threatening to shut down.