21 March 2014

Kenya: Sugarcane Farmers Up in Arms Over Importation

Nairobi — Kenya Sugarcane Farmers Association (KESGA) has threatened to halt sugar cane processing in all factories in sugar growing regions, if the government does not deal with illegal importation of sugar.

The farmers have now given the government and millers a 21-day notice to stop the importation of cheaper sugar which they say is killing the sugar industry.

KESGA chairman Ibrahim Juma says the excess illegal sugar importation has led to locally milled sugar to lie in factories thus affecting the lives of farmers, especially in Western Kenya region.

"We are giving everybody 21 days and if this does not stop within that given time, we will make sure that no one crashes sugar anywhere in the country," he warned.

Speaking during a cane farmers meeting drawn from all over Nyanza and Western regions in Kisumu on Friday, Juma said the government needs to explain the cartels behind the importation of sugar since all imports must be cleared by government agencies.

"The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture must come out and say something. This is illegal," he said.

The farmers have lamented the drastic drop of cane prices to Sh2,800 from Sh4,000 a tonne previously as a result of illegal sugar importation.

"The farmer is using close to Sh3, 800 to produce one tonne of sugar cane and is being paid Sh2,800. That is no longer business. And people are quiet and just looking. The government is just watching. We cannot accept this," Juma said with agitation.

Apart from the farmers, he said, the government is losing up to Sh2 billion monthly on uncollected tax from the illegal importation.

Last month a group of Members of Parliament expressed similar concerns over the illegal importation saying it was impacting negatively on the industry.

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