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DESPERATE

Sugarcane farmers reduced to beggars but leaders silent

Death of Sony Sugar is the death of the region’s economic well-being.

In Summary
  • A year ago when Sony was operating optimally, the market looked for us and there was money in our pockets.
  • We don’t need handouts. We are above handouts. All we want is for farming to be made viable.
Cane harvesters contracted to Mumias Sugar Company escort a lorry they intercepted allegedly ferrying sugarcane to West Kenya Sugar Company.
Cane harvesters contracted to Mumias Sugar Company escort a lorry they intercepted allegedly ferrying sugarcane to West Kenya Sugar Company.

Sugarcane farmers in South Nyanza are facing immense challenges, following the collapse of Sony Sugar. I find myself in this basket (or do I say casket?), with two farms with mature sugarcane but no market.

We only have two millers crushing to capacity, RIAT in Ndhiwa and another in Transmara.

A year ago when Sony was operating optimally, the market looked for us and there was money in our pockets.

Over the years, our politicians have resisted the privatisation of Sony Sugar yet they are unable to provide a working solution.

As a government business, with unprofessional political appointees, its operations are prone to violent uncensored abuse, corruption and political interference, now chocking its operations and grinding it to halt.

The death of Sony Sugar is the death of the economic well-being of the region. Not only does it directly employ people but thousands are indirectly dependent on it, from the landlords to agrovets, retailers, and even bars.

Privatisation would have cured Sony, for the better. It is gravely saddening that our leaders are deafly silent on this matter, which is hurting us more than the coronavirus.

Sugarcane is rotting in farms as middlemen and private millers take advantage of vulnerable farmers. The governor, who was elected on sugar politics, is mute, unable to influence positive change in Sony.

Why do we elect leaders,if they cannot help bring about positive change in our lives?

We don’t need handouts. We are above handouts. All we want is for farming to be made viable. Unfortunately, ours is a system prone that thrives on impoverishing the masses, turning hardworking people to beggars. This is government oppression.

One would talk of diversification, to what? Even maize is rotting in homes, despite us having the NCPB, whose requirements (it would seem) are deliberately created to lock out farmers.

Leaders must wake up and focus on what puts food on the table, even if means sacrificing their positions. If the Handshake cannot address the plight of Kenyans, like ensuring normalcy returns in the sugar belt, then its proponents are of no good.

Farmer, Migori