The Star (Nairobi)

15 September 2012

Kenya: Pay Farmers Well, Mumias Told

MUMIAS Sugar Company has been asked to pay farmers better to motivate them. Parliamentary aspirant Julius Odongo said in Mumias, the recent increment by the company to the farmers was a mockery. The company recently effected an increment of Sh75 from, Sh3,750 to Sh3,825.

"What is Sh75 increment to a company that produces water, electricity and ethanol besides sugar?" posed Odongo] The farmers have threatened to disown the contract and venture into private cane farming if the country's leading sugar producer cannot improve and change the agreement fixed when the factory was being put up.

"We want the contract made in early 70s changed so that we can benefit from numerous products produced from our cane crushed by Mumias" said a farmer, Odongo who is vying for Mumias parliamentary seat was reacting to recent increment of cane price by Mumias sugar. He dismissed the increment from mere mockery to farmers.

Odongo asked Mumias to sober up or they will lose farmers who want to sell their produce to millers which offer better services including good payments. Addressing journalists in Mumias town yesterday, Odongo said farmers were demoralized following huge deductions effected by Mumias after harvesting their cane.

He blamed Mumias of poor management in the transport system when he cited an incident where cane harvested in Shikalame sub-location belonging to Henry Nambaka between 26th and 29th August has dried up in the farm without Mumias fetching it for crushing.

"Among our grievances against Mumias include the period of time taken to pay farmers after harvesting our cane. While upcoming millers pay after seven days, Mumias, as gigantic as it is, takes over two months" Odongo hinted out.

He claimed Mumias weighbridge machines have been tampered with in favour of the miller and don't reflect the exact weight of the cane. Speaking, Mumias district peace committee secretary Joel Olweny has urged Mumias to use its known strong systems and structures to develop better remuneration skills to farmers in order to arrest some of the petty issues arising from growing indices.

Olweny observed cane spillage, high transport levies and centralized weighbridge systems maintained by the company as other factors that cannot be despised if Mumias has to survive in the highly competitive sugar industry. He said Mumias should stop oppressing farmers who emanate from its sugar scheme but practicing private cane farming whenever they sell their sugarcane to a miller of their choice.

"Not every cane grown in Mumias belongs to Mumias Sugar Company and the firm should desist from misconstruing such cane sold to rival millers as cane poaching. Mumias only needs to attract farmers by paying higher than other millers" noted Olweny.

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