Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has defended the composition of the sugar taskforce formed to highlight the issues facing the sugar sector in Kenya. A section of farmers has voiced their displeasure with the formation and constitution of the 16-member task force, which is co-chaired by CS Kiunjuri and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. Farmers have faulted the task force saying some of the people selected aren’t directly linked to the sugar sector and that the number of sugar millers in the task force outweigh that of cane farmers.
However, Agriculture CS Kiunjuri, who toured the North Rift, Western and Lake region to meet with stakeholders and leaders around the maize and sugar belts, said the issue has been politicized and that the people selected are qualified and all the stakeholders are represented, “If you want to politicize this issue it will never come to an end,” he said. The CS said the task force can’t include everyone who wants to be included and that the issue of output should be considered, not only representation. “How big can a taskforce be, already we have 16, I have 5 petitions, how many petitions can I receive?” he posed.
The tasks given to the task force include reviewing the sugar industry value chain including research and make appropriate recommendations, review the policy, legal, regulatory and institutional framework of the sugar industry and make appropriate recommendations. It will also review the past, present and emerging challenges facing the industry, review importation and taxation structures in the sugar sector, identify and evaluate the most suitable strategic interventions to revitalize the state-owned sugar mills and review pricing mechanism in the sugar sector and make appropriate recommendations among other roles and then develop a comprehensive report with recommendations to be implemented in the short term, medium term and long term.