Cane farmers in Busia and Mumias zone divided over cane poaching crisis
Written by Frankline Bwire
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A section of demonstrating cane farmers at the West Kenya company weighbridge at Tangakona in Nambale. [PHOTO|Frankline Bwire|West FM]
Cane farmers from Busia and Mumias zone remained divided over the Sugarcane poaching crisis alleged to be undertaken by the West Kenya Sugar Company.
A demonstration by a section of farmers to warn the accused company against poaching cane belonging to Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) and other sugar millers in the region was hindered by another group that converged at the firm’s weighbridge at Tangakona in Nambale district, defending it against the accusations put forward by those against it.
Those demonstrating against West Kenya claimed that the cane poaching exercise was adversely affecting the production and development of sugar, especially at MSC which heavily relies on sugarcane from Busia County.
“We have agreed that no cane will be transported to West Kenya Sugar Company, Mumias being the only sugar factory recognized by the COMESA it should be fully protected due to its benefits to the farmers and local residents”, said Dan Oyondi a cane farmer in Mumias.
They urged the government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the issue is solved in a bid to end the ongoing differences, following the resistance from a section of farmers who were armed with pangas and other crude weapons blocking them from holding a peaceful demonstration in the area.
Farmers who were in support of West Kenya said they were fully satisfied with the company’s operations in the area, adding that they want competition among sugar mills in the region to ensure they benefit.
They added that farmers contracted to other sugar factories should continue with the supply exercise and private cane farmers should be free to sell their harvest to any miller they want without being forced.
“As farmers we will not accept to be exploited through low rates for cane delivered at the MSC while it gets huge profits”, Recho Kamloit, a cane farmer from Teso, adding that the decision lies upon them to decide where to take their cane.
However, security officers from Busia police station were forced to intervene after the group of farmers in support of the accused company chased away those demonstrating against it.