- The Lake Region Economic Bloc last week said the leasing process of the state-owned sugar mills should be suspende.
- Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association secretary general Richard Ogendo accused LREB of being used to attempt to derail the process.
Sugar cane farmers in Nyanza have opposed a proposal by governors to the government to suspend planned leasing of state-owned millers to allow for further consultation.
The farmers called on the government to expedite the process to salvage company property from plunder.
They said the governors' proposal was a plot by some selfish individuals who want to delay the process to continue benefiting from companies like Miwani which went under receivership in 2000.
The Lake Region Economic Bloc last week said the leasing process of the state-owned sugar mills should be suspended until consultation by all parties was completed.
Kenya Sugar Cane Growers Association secretary general Richard Ogendo accused LREB of being used to attempt to derail the process, which is expected to be concluded on Tuesday next week.
Ogendo noted the counties have no role in this because it's a national government project, hence they should instead wait to sign land leases and stop posturing for their cronies.
He said it was unfortunate that just when the process was almost being concluded, the governors from the bloc came out to oppose it.
“The two governors out of the 14 from the regional bloc have come out to oppose the process just when it's about to be concluded. What is their interest? They are now acting like brokers,” he said.
Ogendo further alleged that two local private millers were behind the call to suspend the leasing process for their own interest.
“We know the interest that surrounds Miwani Sugar Company and people of Miwani will not accept what the governors are pushing, because for 20 years they have waited to see smoke from the company,” he said.
The Kenya National Alliance of Sugar Cane Framers Organizations deputy chairman Charles Atyang noted that this was a calculated effort by enemies of the sugar industry, and sugar cane farmers in particular who bear the brunt of effects of closure of the factories.
Atyang said the same proponents of the suspension of leasing of the state-owned sugar mills were the authors and signatories of the national task force report of 2019 which recommended a 12 months' privatisation time frame.
“It is on record that some of the proponents for suspension of the process went to court to stop the programme for three years. They cannot purport to be concerned with the welfare of the industry,” he said.
“We wish to remind these political hustlers that we fully back President Uhuru Kenyatta's steadfast focus to reform the industry,” Atyang stated.
Molly Adhiambo, a farmer from Kombeyi in Muhoroni subcounty urged Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya not to be swayed by people who were fighting for their selfish gain.
Already, the government has started the process of leasing out Chemelil, Miwani, Muhoroni, Nzoia and South Nyanza companies in pursuit of increasing competitiveness and effective service delivery in the sugar sector.
The Agriculture and Food Authority has invited local and international investors familiar with the industry to submit their expressions of interest.
AFA director general Solomon Odera said in preparation for this, the government had commenced the programme by approving the restructuring of the balance sheets of each company.
“The objective of this is to facilitate turnaround of these sugar companies to profitability through modernisation and efficient management which will in turn enhance competitiveness in Kenya, EAC, Comesa and global market," he said.
Edited by Henry Makori