Mumias Sugar roars back to life after six-month shutdown

Mumias Sugar Company MD Nashon Aseka briefing the media at the company's warehouse on Friday, November 3, 2017. /BRIAN KISANJI
Mumias Sugar Company MD Nashon Aseka briefing the media at the company's warehouse on Friday, November 3, 2017. /BRIAN KISANJI

Mumias Sugar mill roared back to life on Friday after being shut down for six months to pave way for repairs and maintenance.

The factory's products will be back on the supermarket shelves albeit with fears of cane shortage likely to cripple the firm's operations.

Mumias Sugar is currently milling 4,000 tonnes of sugarcane per day, which is way half the maximum milling capacity of 8,000 tonnes.

Managing director Nashon Aseka said the mill will operate at full throttle after it gets enough sugarcane from its suppliers.

"We are now milling for about four days in a week. We spend the rest of the week accumulating cane," he said on Friday.

The MD said the company is in talks with the county government of Kakamega to help in the farming of the cane since Agriculture is devolved.

"We have talked with the county officials and they are willing to help our farmers with growing the crop in the our region," Aseka said.

"The land is available and the farmers are willing. It is only a question of getting the means to invest in the production."

Many farmers in Mumias region have opted for alternative crops owing to the cash troubles the giant miller has been facing.

The firm currently owes farmers it contracted to supply it with the raw material to a tune of Sh700 million stretching over two years.

Aseka said they hope to pay its farmers within a week to avert a fallout and ensure sustainability of cane supplies.

"It will take two years to get back to full cycle of production," Aseka said.

The company suffered after most of its contracted farmers opted to sell their sugarcane to other functioning millers.

The national government has spent Sh3.7 billion in bailout loans to revive Mumias Sugar Company.

Owing to the cash troubles, the miller has had challenges with payment of staff salaries as well as meeting other recurrent expenses.

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