•In the resolutions read on behalf of the farmers by Tom Okal, they want the factory harvesting department to visit farmers and look for canes..
•Some farmers had moved to the Court of Appeal seeking orders to stay the ruling by the labour court that Nyangweso was holding the MD position illegally.
Sugarcane farmers from Nandi and Kisumu counties have resolved to continue supplying cane to Chemelil Sugar Company after two weeks of interruption.
Farmers had stopped delivering cane to the company over leadership wrangles.
On Wednesday, the farmers agreed to resume supply to the factory after meeting the management.
They stopped cane delivery after the removal of the company’s acting Managing director Gabriel Nyangweso. He was replaced by Jacqueline Kotonya on an interim basis.
Kenya Sugarcane Farmers’ Federation Chemelil branch chairman Noah Cheruiyot said they have resolved to support the company through cane delivery for sustained operations.
“We have agreed in our meeting to supply cane to the factory and not to other competing millers as we wait for the court decision on March 6, 2023, on the fate of Nyangweso,” he said.
Some farmers had moved to the Court of Appeal seeking orders to stay the ruling by the labour court that Nyangweso was holding the MD position illegally.
The farmers, Cheruiyot announced, will meet immediately after the court decision for further direction based on the court outcome.
During the meeting, farmers also agreed on other issues that affect their welfare which they want the management to address for the general good of the company.
In the resolutions read on behalf of the farmers by Tom Okal, they want the factory harvesting department to visit farmers and look for canes.
Currently, there is a cane shortage in the Nyando sugar belt with state-owned mills and private companies competing for the available raw materials.
“We are appealing to the harvesting department to get out of the office and go to farms to convince farmers to deliver cane to the factory,” he said.
Okal pointed out that proper mobilisation of cane was the best way to sustain crushing and sugar production at the factory.
“Chemelil has been the source of livelihoods to farmers and indirectly to thousands of people. We will therefore stand by it and continue to supply cane despite numerous calls from other mills,” he said.
The high demand for canes from private mills should sound a warning to Chemelil management, he added.
Acting head of the company Eng Joseph Kiilu, who represented Kotonya in the meeting, said they are committed to addressing the concerns raised by farmers and other stakeholders.
He assured farmers that they will not divert from the initial payments arrangement agreed under Nyangweso's tenure.
“We are going to stick to the payment plan as was the case during the tenure of the former MD. We have listened to your demands and they will be implemented,” Kiilu said.
Farmers have been receiving payments every week for cane delivered to the company. Under Nyangweso, farmers said the factory was paying for canes received within a week.
Besides being current in payments, the factory was paying Sh7.5 million every week from September 2022 towards arrears besides.
Since Kotonya took over, the management has disbursed Sh93. 6 million to farmers, transporters and cane harvesters.
The money covered payments that were outstanding for the weeks ending February 5, 12, and 19.
Of the Sh93.6 million payments, the company has equally paid Sh7.5 million as farmers’ arrears for 2022.
Last week, Kotonya praised the continued support from farmers, transporters and cane harvesters to the factory.
She urged suppliers to deliver canes to the factory to sustain the milling operations.
“We are appealing to suppliers to continue supplying the company with canes to sustain the milling operations,” Kotonya said.
This, she said, will ensure the desired sugar production levels and revenues meet the expectations of all the stakeholders.
The company resumed production after undergoing three months of maintenance on August 28, 2022.
The Sh220 million government-funded maintenance was undertaken between April and July this year.
The money was to service and procure various key components that ran the factory.
The daily crushing capacity of the factory is 3,000 tonnes of cane.
Kotonya replaced Nyangweso after the Employment and Labour Relations Court directed Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi to appoint a new MD.
Linturi was further directed to advertise for the recruitment of a new board of directors following a successful petition by Caleb Gichana who sought the removal of the officials from office.
Last year, the factory had accrued farmers’ arrears worth Sh235 million between January and March before maintenance.
Out of the amount, the government paid 40 per cent (Sh111 million) while 60 per cent (Sh124 million) was to be paid later.
(Edited by Tabnacha O)