Sugarcane farmers will have to be paid in seven days after cane delivery to millers, this is according to the order by Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya who cautioned millers against flaunting the order.
Speaking while announcing new cane prices and a revised pricing schedule, the CS ordered all millers to pay ksh. 4040 per tonne of sugarcane to farmers from Thursday 1St April up from the current ksh. 3700 per tonne. Munya says the new prices are to ensure farmers too reap the benefits of increased sugar production in the country.
“The Ministry directs the millers to adhere to the new prices while making payments to the farmers. Any farmer being paid less should report to the Authority,” he said.
According to the crops Act of 2013 Section 37 , noncompliance will attract a fine not less than ksh. 500,000 or a period of one year imprisonment.
Research commissioned by the ministry of agriculture on the availability of sugar in the country shows that sugar production in the country has been increasing in the last two years. In 2019 a total of 440,935 metric tons of sugar were produced and by December 2020 sugar production increased to 603,788 metric tons which was a 37% increase. The report further shows that in January and February of this year, 2021 119,552 metric tons of sugar have so far been produced and the ministry of agriculture is projecting over 660,000 metric tons to be produced by the end of 2021.
The sugar industry reported average cane yields of 61.64 tonnes per hectare in 2020 compared to 51.26 tonnes per hectare in 2019 representing a 20% increase. The total cane deliveries in the period January to December 2020 was 6,799,923 tonnes against 4,605,102 tonnes recorded during the same period in 2019. This represents a significant increase of 48%.
In 2020, total area harvested was 89,803 hectares compared to 71,935 hectares in the period January to December 2019, signifying a 26% increase.
“This increase was attributed to the fact that most private mills were operating almost at their optimum capacities due to improved availability of mature cane for harvesting and also partially attributed to favorable weather conditions and optimal operations of the private mills;” the CS said.
For a long time many farmers have been signing contracts with millers which do not have clear provisions on compensation schemes or sugarcane harvesting timing, that has in turn led to massive loss. Consequently farmers have been advised to ensure the contracts are clear and understandable before signing.
A schedule released by the ministry of agriculture to millers as part of the contract directs that; sugarcane grown for the first time be harvested in 24 months, subsequently be harvested in 22 months. The schedule further directs that harvest to mill time for green sugarcane shall not exceed seventy two hours while accidentally burnt cane shall not exceed forty eight hours.
The annual sugar consumption in kenya stands at one million sixty-seven thousand and ninety-nine tonnes. With an anticipated production of 660,000 tonnes this year, Kenya will import 210,163 tonnes of mill white/ brown sugar to bridge the gap. This will represent a drop of 40,000 metric tonnes importation from 250,000 tonnes imported in 2020. According to the ministry the deficit will be imported especially from the COMESA region and only by certified importers.
“My Ministry has put in place systems in place to ensure that only the deficit quantity shall be imported by registered and licensed importers. All sugar importers are therefore encouraged to comply with the Crops (Sugar) (Imports, Exports and By-Products) Regulations, 2020.”