Cane farmers in Lwandeti protest over delayed harvesting of the crop

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Some of the cane farmers

Cane farmers from Lwandeti location in Matete Sub County demonstrated and closed Butali and West Kenya sugar companies satellite offices at Lwandeti market lamenting over delayed harvesting of the crop.

They accused officials at the offices of demanding bribes of between Kshs. 3,000 to Kshs. 5,000 before giving harvesting permits.

They lamented that despite their canes being ready for harvesting at the beginning of the year they have been denied harvesting permits.

“There’s high level of corruption going on in these offices, one is expected  to part with some cash before being given a go ahead to harvest his or her canes, this is unacceptable,” said the farmers.

They alleged that those who cut their canes without giving money to the officers, their canes are left to dry on the farm without being transported to the millers thus incurring losses.

“My neighbor had to wait for about two weeks after harvesting for his cane to be collected,” said Mr. Maurice Elima Kere.

Kere’s sentiments were echoed by Enoch Ashindu who also alleged that his neighbour had to wait for three months after cutting his canes before they were collected after losing sucrose.

“We were told that canes are supported to be harvested at 22 months and if they stay longer they lose their quality. Now we want the companies to tell us where we shall take our overstayed cane,” they said.

The farmers gave a 14 days ultimatum to the two companies to address their grievances by harvesting all mature sugarcanes in the area failure to which they will hold mass demonstration, shut the offices and move to court to sue them for breach of contract.

They have also threatened to start uprooting canes and replace it with other alternative crops that will boost their income.

“If we uproot our canes we will not allow tractors to pass here transporting canes from other areas destroying our roads,” they warned.

There were no representatives from the accused companies to respond to the allegations.