Sugarcane farmers in Bungoma fault government’s move to import sugar

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Sugarcane farmers addressing the press at Misikhu. David Opala displays the letter with importation details

Sugarcane farmers from Bungoma County have criticized the government over its decision to import more than 20,000 metric tonnes of sugar from Uganda. Farmers said it’s very unfortunate the country can decide to import sugar at a time when many factories in the country have lots of sugar in stock and all they lack is a market.

Addressing the media at Misikhu market in Webuye constituency, they said sugar millers have plenty of sugar in store, and wondered who advised the government to import such a large quantity, yet according to international standards, Kenya’s sugar is way better. A farmer, Mr. David Opala from Tongaren said that most farmers in Western Kenya depend on sugar sales to pay school fees and cater for other needs.

He said many farmers who took their sugarcane to government run sugar millers haven’t bene paid for close to a year and some of them have already matured sugarcane in their farms which haven’t bene harvested yet. He said farmers in Western Kenya have been sidelined in the agriculture sector, citing that they’ve tried maize farming but the pricing was very low, forcing them to turn to the strained sugarcane farming industry.

On his part, Mr. Rasto Gidali Ojako, also a farmer, said the Jubilee government had planned to improve the lives of farmers under the Big Four Agenda and wondered why that isn’t the case at the moment. He faulted Western leaders for failing to support sugarcane farmers, compared to Rift Valley and Central leaders who actively support their farmers in the tea and coffee sectors, “What most of our leaders know is criticizing each other at funerals but they fail to address the challenges we face,” he said. The farmers have now urged the government to come out clearly on the sugar importation matter, and have said the whole process should be stopped.