Kenya: Sugar Belt Bloc Spells Out Terms for Leasing Millers

Governor Anyang' Nyong'o has defended counties under the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) over their stance on the leasing of five State-owned sugar millers, saying they were not opposed to the process.

Prof Nyong'o said on Saturday the 14-member bloc insists on consultations on the process to ensure due diligence and accountability.

He spoke as cane farmers insisted the process should go on as planned by the State, warning that the governors' position threatens to derail and sabotage the planned leasing.

A week ago, governors from the sugar-growing zone resolved to have a committee comprising national and county governments constituted to oversee the leasing process and ensure legitimacy.

Five governors from the bloc met Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya on the planned leasing. Among others, they want to have representatives from sugar-growing regions on the evaluation team that will pick the investors who will take over the factories.

Leasing process

"As governors from the sugar-growing zones, we sought a meeting with the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary to clarify some issues regarding the leasing of the factories, especially on the process which we believed would not give a level playing ground to all interested parties," said Prof Nyong'o in a statement.

"We are interested in seeing that the leasing process and other reforms are implemented with speed."

He said western Kenya governors pioneered the ongoing reforms in the sugar industry and would ensure the task force report is implemented.

"We have burnt our midnight oil deliberating over the best way to resuscitate the industry. We have met farmers and key stakeholders as we sought ways to save the industry," he said.

The governor while blaming some individuals of spreading malicious propaganda aimed at stalling the task force report called on farmers to be cautious and not be deceived.

Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers national treasurer Stephen ole Narupa, however, called on the bloc to consider the views of people outside the bloc.

He noted that the interests of cane farmers and workers from Transmara and coastal regions, which are not part of the regional bloc should also be looked at.

State-owned companies

"It is unfortunate that we today have a lot of cane on the ground that cannot be harvested due to a lack of capacity by the operational mills, it is only through leasing that we can salvage the situation," he said.

Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Organisation has also accused Lake Region Economic Bloc leaders of attempting to antagonise the government to slow down the lease of State-owned companies.

"Our concern is when they are together, they speaking the same thing and sugar cane farmers are very happy.

"But when these politicians come down, they convey contrary massages to the sugar cane farmers on the same," said Atyang Atiang'.

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