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New sugar project due in 2010

MOMBASA, September 23 – The Kwale International Sugar Company Limited (KISCL) has announced that it will start commercial cane production in 2010.

According to Kees Hopmans, team leader of HVA International of Holland, one of the lead consultants for the sugar cane project, KISCL will start with the purchase of farm and plant machinery before the end of the year.

“Construction of the milling plant is set to start early next year, while the commercial cane production will commence in 2010,” Hopmans said at a press briefing and pointed out that they were satisfied with the ongoing land preparation.

Last year, the government allocated 15,000 acres of land to KISCL for the growth of sugar cane and putting up a crushing mill. A further 13,000 acres is being subdivided into 5-acre plots to resettle squatters and other people made landless by the project.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have both endorsed the Sh21 billion project, which replaces the defunct Ramisi Sugar Company that wound up in 1988.

There have been disputes over the land on which the company is to be constructed, because before the government leased it out, about 800 squatters had begun living there – brought on by Ramisi’s collapse.  Apart from that, the same piece of land had been leased to a mining company.

The Msambweni district lands adjudication officer Samuel Odari said a dispute had arisen after the Commissioner of Mines and geology leased a plot to the mining firm, while the Agriculture Ministry leased the same land to KISCL.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister William Ruto last month gave KISCL a one-month ultimatum to show progress in the proposed sugarcane project, failure to which he threatened that the government would look for another investor.

T S Rao, Director of Projects with J.P. Mukherji & Associates PVT of India, who are specialists in engineering and consultancy services, said that once fully operational, the milling plant would produce up to 3,000 tonnes of white milled sugar per day.

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“Total cane to be crushed per annum will be 670,000 tones,’’ Rao said, adding that they expected to be through with the mill construction by the last quarter of 2010 – in time for the first cane harvest.

A test trial for the factory is expected in September 2011 with one hundred per cent of cane sourced from Msambweni District.

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