Muhoroni Cane Farmers Cry Foul Over State Bailout

Cane farmers in Muhoroni sub-county have faulted the Jubilee administration for neglecting the sugar sector in the country claiming that they were left out in the bailout packages the government offered other sectors.

The Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (KNFSF) Muhoroni branch secretary, Mr. Noah Oliech Opiyo, claimed that the factory had not received any financial assistance from the government in spite of its deepening financial crisis.

This comes in the wake of recent audit reports that indicated that Muhoroni was grappling with a Sh30 billion debt up from Sh25 billion when the company was put under receivership by the government three years ago.

Local cane farmers have been eagerly anticipating for the Head of State to bail them out of their woes as he has done to other farmers in the country, said Opiyo

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced a Sh800 million bailout package for three Western based millers, that included Sh500 million for Mumias factory company with Trans-Nzoia and Chemelil equally sharing the balance to settle farmer’s cane arrears, among other debts.

The secretary told the Press in Muhoroni on Saturday that the situation had pushed stakeholders to send an emissary to the President in the hope of calling his attention to the plight of the factory.

The concerns also come at a time when the local cane growers who are demanding over Sh261 million in cane arrears from the factory have threatened to terminate cane delivery until the miller offsets their pending dues.

Through the Kenya National Sugarcane Growers Association (KESGA), the farmers have blamed the company’s management over delays in payment despite the current high demand for sugar in the local markets.

KESGA secretary General, Richard Ogendo, last week warned the company’s management over plans to mobilise local farmers to suspend cane harvesting and delivery to the factory over the unpaid dues.

The boycott is however, according to the KNFSF secretary, bound to spell doom to the region’s socio-economic networks to the detriment of the majority of the locals whose livelihoods hinge on the sector.

He however, noted that farmers in the sugar belt region were optimistic that President Kenyatta will intervene in addressing the dark cloud of financial woes threatening the collapse of the sugar mill.

Opiyo therefore, called on the farmers to bolster cane production to enable them benefit from the windfall accruing from favourable sugar prices currently prevalent in the local markets.

Source: Kenya News Agency