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Cane farmers accuse BBI promoters of championing self interests, neglecting sugar mill woes

Five state-owned mills are lined up for privatization include Chemelil, Muhoroni, Nzoia, Sony and Miwani/FILE

KISUMU, Kenya, Jan 11 – Sugarcane farmers have faulted politicians for championing their interest through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) while neglecting woes affecting farmers in sugarcane farming regions.

Kenya Association of Sugarcane and Allied Products Chairperson Charles Atyang Saturday said the sugar industry has collapsed and efforts to revive the industry have been abandoned.

Atyang said politicians were busy pushing for BBI constitutional review process just for their own interest. He claimed there are no plans in the report to revive the sector.

“We have no faith in BBI even though some people say it is good. If it can’t revive our sugar mills, I say BBI to farmers is no,” he said.

He blamed politicians in Nyanza region for failing to advance the interests of farmers instead preoccupying themselves with selfish gain.

“Politicians in Central Kenya are talking about coffee, tea, miraa but here in the region our factories are dead, no politician is talking about the revival of sugar factories,” he said.

He said the planned privatization of the state-owned mills has taken too long, yet farmers are suffering since there are no factories to take their cane for crushing.

Speaking to the press in Kisumu just a day after the Nyanza BBI consultative conference in Kisii, Atyang said sugarcane farmers will reject the document if it fails to include proposals on the revitalization of sugar sector in the country.

He said farmers want to see steps the government is putting in place to ensure Chemelil, SoNY, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni sugar factories are up and running.

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Atyang said the current state of the mills is sickening as workers go without pay for several months while farmers are forced to wait for ages to have their delivered cane paid for.

He however challenged the management of the mills to consider diversification once the factories are revived.

Atyang said the factories were only producing sugar yet there is a lot to be produced out of the biproducts.

He singled out Kibos sugar factory that has established other factories producing paper, fertilizer, electricity, refined sugar and distillery just out of cane biproducts.

The union official noted that farmers are bound to reap big since the factories will then be compelled through law to pay e for the biproducts.

“Our factories should take the route of Kibos, they should only not mill sugar, let them use molasses to venture into producing of other products,” he said.

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