Nzoia Sugar Company may close for lack of cane

The Nzoia Sugar Company is on the brink of collapse and is also grappling with a Sh.28 billion debt.

Speaking to KNA in his office on Thursday, Bungoma County Executive Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Irrigation and Cooperatives, Mathews Wanjala Makanda said that for now, the company has stopped sugarcane processing due to lack of cane.

Sugarcane, the main raw material, is no longer available making it very difficult to save the company, he said

Makanda said that apart from the debt owed to farmers, the miller also owed the taxman billions in unpaid taxes while a number of creditors and suppliers were also on its neck demanding millions.

He said that the cost of producing sugar in Kenya was prohibitive with the average cost of producing one ton of cane standing at Sh.2, 250 compared to just about S, 300 in other regions.

He said that the government owned 97.93 per cent of shares in Nzoia Sugar Company while and IDB owned the remaining. There was a proposal to privatize the company amidst a myriad of obstacles and resistance from farmers and also to transfer part of this stake to the county governments.

The county executive averred that the company requires new technology machines for sugar processing, while farmers needed to be supplied with a new variety of sugarcane seed which matures within a shorter period.

Makanda said that there was need for farmers to be paid their money on time upon delivery of their cane to motivate them.

The Chairman of Nzoia Sugarcane Farmers Association, Christopher Sifuna is asking farmers to be patient as a lasting solution is sought.

Source: Kenya News Agency