Kenya: Sugarcane Farmers Face Heavy Losses as Millers Renege on Deal

Sugarcane farmers in Migori and Homa Bay counties are staring at possible losses over failure by millers to honour a purchase agreement that would ensure their crop is harvested first.

The more than 500 farmers lamented that failure by Sony Sugar in Migori, Transmara (Narok) and Sukari (Homa Bay) to harvest their cane on time as earlier agreed is causing huge financial losses.

The farmers have accused the millers of outsourcing cane from other counties, with sugarcane from large hectares of land in Homa Bay and Migori being destroyed due to late harvesting.

The cane growers and millers had reached an agreement that would ensure farms within the two counties are prioritised during harvesting to minimise wastage of raw materials in sugar manufacturing.

The Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Secretary-General Era Okoth said the crop in farms is past maturity date, with most millers now getting raw materials from Kisumu.

Lawsuit threat

"The tribulations we are undergoing are orchestrated by failure by millers to honour an agreement that would see our cane harvested first," he said.

Mr Okoth said contracted farmers are also facing the same problems as he accused millers of keeping agreement books away from the growers.

The cane farmers have now threatened to move to court to compel the millers to harvest the crop. Mr Okoth called on local elected leaders to help address the crisis.

"Millers should stop outsourcing cane for three months so that the stock in Homa Bay and Migori is cleared," he said.

Delayed harvesting has also been blamed on bad roads, especially in Homa Bay, where most roads become impassable when it rains.

Farmers have accused the county government of failing to repair roads despite collecting transport levy from them.

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