•The Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane farmers led by chairman Saulo Busolo stated they believe that the sugar industry is not yet ready to do without safeguard measures.
•Busolo said so far they have made some successes but not completely to the level where the country is self-sufficient in sugar.
Sugarcane farmers in Western Kenya have called on the government to seek an extension of the COMESA moratorium which ends in February next year.
Sugarcane farmers in Western Kenya have called on the government to seek for an extension of the Comesa moratorium which ends in February next year.
The chairman of the National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Saulo Busolo said they believe the sugar industry is not ready to do without safeguards.
The safeguard measures were inaugurated in 2002 and have so far been extended nine items.
Busolo said they have made some successes but not completely to the level where the country is self-sufficient in sugar.
To that extend the country's consumption has risen to one million metric tonnes yet the production is roughly about 635 metric tonnes.
This deficit, Busolo said, is bridged through imports which have already been exhausted this year.
He said that sugar production levels have not been developed to sufficiently meet the requirements of bridging the gap.
Busolo expressed fears that if the extension was not granted, chances of Kenyan factories collapsing were high.
"If the sugar comes from out without any restriction it means there will be no production, safeguard for farmers, the process of surpassing will be depressed and the sugar industry will be killed,” he said.
He added that the government should enhance its negotiation with Comesa to seek extension so that the industry's interest is secured.
Busolo accused senators of and governors of frustrating Agriculture CS Peter Munya's reforms in the sector.
"As farmers, we are calling leaders in the two governments to assist President Uhuru Kenyatta in his reforms in the sugar sector‚” Busolo said
He said that as private sector players the industry could do better and there are investments that meet the constitutionality of Comesa for the privatisation of the sugar industry.
The leasing that the government has embarked on is part of safeguard measures that Comesa wanted but its currently being frustrated by some quarters.
Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association Secretary-General Richard Ogendo noted that privatisation was being frustrated by a section of private millers in the country.
"We understand that we are not going to keep on postponing Comesa but for this, we are asking the government to kindly help us again by seeking for a further extension," Ogendo said.
He appealed to the Judiciary, saying there are so many cases coming up that were aimed at frustrating the leasing process.
Kenya got a 12-month extension last year and that will end in February 2021 and if the moratorium is not sought, Comesa members will be free to export to Kenya sugar that could cost 40 per cent less than what is in the market.
While giving the extension, since Kenya sought protection for its industry, Comesa directed the government to accelerate the sale of its sugar factories so as to have them run competitively.
Kenya said it was already in the process of privatising state-owned millers, adopting a cane-pricing formula and implementing an energy policy to facilitate co-generation of electricity and ethanol production.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris