Bungoma — President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked traders to stop importation of cheap sugar to protect the local industry.
The President said the Government will not tolerate unscrupulous traders who are killing the local sugar industry through cheap imports.
The President was speaking during a thanksgiving service for Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka at Kamukuywa Primary school grounds in the County.
"We will not entertain the importation of cheap sugar which is posing unfair competition to locally produced sugar," said the President.
He said the Government is determined to protect local sugarcane farmers from cheap imports and will prosecute those engaging in the illegal trade.
"We destroyed contraband sugar impounded in Mombasa. Cheap sugar is also being imported from Somalia and will equally be destroyed once seized," the President added.
President Kenyatta further assured cane farmers that a new scheme will be introduced in July to enable them be paid advances for sugarcane delivered to the factories.
"It is unfair for farmers to deliver sugarcane to the factories and wait for long periods before they are paid. Farmers require money to meet their basic needs," he said.
In addition, the President has directed release of Sh500 million next week to pay farmers who delivered their sugarcane to the cash-stripped Nzoia Sugar Company.
He pointed out that the region's economy depended on the sugar industry and urged cane farmers to diversify their activities by growing other cash crops.
President Kenyatta said the region was also ideal for dairy farming and assured that the national and county governments will work together to ensure the potential is tapped.
During the occasion, the President outlined the various roads among other development projects the Government is implementing as an economic recovery roadmap for a region.
He announced plans to upgrade the Musikoma-Buyofu, Misikhu-Brigadier and Chwele-Lwakhakha roads which are key to opening up the Bungoma county and the region for business and trade.
Other projects given priority by the national Government, President Kenyatta said, include revival of the Panpaper factory and upgrading of Kibabi University College to a fully-fledged university.
He added, "Before the end of the year, I will come back to award it a charter."
On security, President Kenyatta called for full participation and cooperation of all Kenyans in the fight against terror and other forms of crime that threaten peace in the country.
"Let every Kenyan be his/her brother's keeper. I encourage county policing and security agencies to work with county leaders to ensure peace," he added.
President Kenyatta defended his delegation of executive powers to the County Commissioners, saying the move would enable all decisions to be made at that level without reference to Nairobi.
"Governors have put structures in place to the location level to improve efficiency in service delivery. Why is politics introduced when the national Government strengthens its structure?" the President posed.
Lusaka urged the national Government to hasten the revival of Panpaper factory, saying he would work with the national Government on all matters of national importance.
The Governor also voiced his concern at cheap sugar imports which, he said, was killing the local industry.
Leader of Minority in the Senate, Moses Wetangula, assured the President that the opposition will work with the Government on security matters to secure the country.
Wetangula also called for adequate budgetary allocation to ensure continuous voter registration in the county.
Western regional leaders supported the President's decision to delegate executive authority to County Commissioners. They however asked the commissioners to work with elected leaders for effective execution of their mandate.
The thanksgiving service was conducted by ACK Archbishop Eliud Wabukala who urged Christians to unite against terrorism and other forms of international crime.