NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 – Legislators from Western Kenya have described as flawed the premise behind the importation of sugar from Uganda.
Flanked by Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) leaders Raila Odinga and Moses Wetangula, the legislators representing Awendo, Muhoroni, Mumias West and Homa Bay described as ‘artificial’ the sugar shortage which President Uhuru Kenyatta said necessitated the importation of the commodity from Uganda.
Awendo MP Jared Kopiyo, Muhoroni MP James K’Oyoo, Mumias West MP Johnson Naicca and Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said there was millions worth of sugar in storage in Kenya’s operational sugar factories and “uncollected sugarcane in farms,” Naicca said, after operations ground to a halt at the Mumias Sugar Company.
“What there is a shortage of is industrial sugar, not table sugar,” Kopiyo said.
Wetangula accused unnamed ‘conspirators’ of orchestrating the artificial sugar shortage in order to set the scene for ‘cheap sugar’ to be imported through Uganda which, he argued, would spell greater doom for Kenyan already struggling cane farmers.
K’Oyoo blamed a cheap sugar glut for the Kenya’s sugar millers’ inability to compete.
“Nzoia Sugar for instance has Sh160 million worth of sugar it has been unable to move in its stores,” he said. “This is because of all this supermarket branded sugar that has flooded our market. They don’t have farms, where do they get it?”
The best thing for Kenya’s sugar industry, the legislators therefore argued, is for the government not to enter into bi-lateral agreements that would put Kenya’s sugar industry in an even more precarious position, but to pump even more money into the sector.
“I said it at the time and I’ll say it again,” Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo contributed. “The Sh1bn the government pumped into Mumias was nothing. It’s only catering for the repair of equipment, farmers still haven’t been paid and neither have the workers and all the mother in the village wants to hear is when she’s getting paid.”
Midiwo went on to describe as a ‘distraction’ the mud-slinging taking place between his party leader Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, saying the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was best place to separate the truth from the lies.
He therefore called on the warring parties to put their differences aside and put their heads together to prevent what he described as the ‘genocide’ Kenya’s sugar industry is facing and on which many a Kenyan are dependent.