Sugarcane farmers in Migori county have welcomed a plan to built a sugar miller at Ndege Oriedo in Rongo district.
The Kenya National Sugarcane Growers Union said the building of the multi-billion Riana Sugar Company "is a positive move that will ensure job creation for the youth and economic prosperity of the county".
"The new player will liberalise the market further and spur cane competition, which will be a plus to over 60,000 farmers in the South Nyanza belt without being tied to any monopoly," said Ezra Olodi, the union's secretary.
Olodi said the move will help increase un-contracted farmers who will take sugarcane farming as a profit venture to sell to any company whose price and payment duration will be suitable to them.
Riana Sugar Company, which will occupy 12.4 hectares of land, is set to rival Sony Sugar in the neighbouring Awendo district in Migori and the Homa Bay's Sukari Milling Company and Trans Mara Milling Company in the Rift Valley.
Olodi who was speaking in Migori town yesterday also called on the Kenya Sugar Board to ease the conditions of taking loans from Agricultural Finance Corporation, which he said are very stringent making farmers shy from taking loans.
"AFC has introduced a new process of valuing the farm before getting any loan even after meeting earlier conditions. Getting a valuer is a long process that again requires money to cater for the valuers which poor farmers can't afford," he said.
Olodi said KSB and AFC should make an arrangement to pass the cost of getting a valuer to be passed when deducting the cost of loan at the source to attract more farmers.
The unionist has also called millers in South Nyanza belt to start providing farm inputs like fertilisers and seedlings for farmers in the area as the weather is favourable for planting to increase sugarcane for crushing.
"Currently the amount of sugarcane is quite low and farmers are forced to cut underage canes and yet the crop is supposed to take 24 months to mature," said the union official.