SUGARCANE farmers in Muhoroni and Nyando sub counties have asked Chemelil Sugar Company to pay Sh213 million arrears owed to them.
The farmers accused managing director Charles Owele of failing to honour the directive of the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei to pay the debt.
Koskei directed Owele to clear all the debts owed to cane farmers during his impromptu visit to the factory. Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association Muhoroni branch secretary general Caleb Ochieng said the factory management has not honored the directive.
Ochieng said that delay has demoralised some farmers who are diverting to grow other crops a move which will reduce cane supply to the factory.
He said that farmers are planning to protest against the MD for failing to pay them on time. However the MD said that sh 60 million of the arrears have been paid to the farmers with plan to clear the remaining amount before the end of the year.
Owele said that they have paid farmers sh 300 million for the last three months as the current payment. He added that the factory has also paid the cane backlog when the factory halted crushing operation for the machines to be serviced.
"Our machines were not serviced for four years leading to regular breakdown," Owele said, adding that the factory halted the operation for six months.
He said that farmers will be paid concurrently to increase cane supply to the factory to boost the sugar production. Owele also disclosed that farmers are currently being paid within two weeks upon delivering canes to the factory.
"We must encourage farmers to continue cane cultivation to ensure adequate supply," he said.
The MD added that the crushing capacity of the factory has improved tremendously following the rehabilitation of the machines. Owele asked farmers to adopt high sucrose and early maturing canes to increase cane production in the sugar belt regions.
He also said the government will use irrigation to ensure adequate cane production in the country. Owele appealed to the government to provide farmers with farm inputs on time as well as addressing the transport problem.