Farmers decry 25 per cent drop in cane price
Farmers in Western region have petitioned the National Cane Pricing Committee to “act tough” following a drop in sugarcane prices.
Representatives of the growers from Busia, Siaya, Bungoma and Kakamega also want Sugar Directorate to crack the whip on sugar factories that have reviewed cane prices downwards by at least 25 per cent.
They said it was wrong for millers to usurp powers of Cane Pricing Committee, which is the body solely mandated to determine prices.
“It was improper for some sugar mills to decide to pay farmers as little as Sh3, 600 from Sh4, 100 per tonne of sugarcane,” said Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers chair Ibrahim Juma.
Butali and Nzoia sugar companies pay Sh3, 800 per tonne, while Kakamega’s West Kenya Sugar Company pays Sh3, 600 for the same.
According to Juma, the price cut does not reflect realities of demand and supply.
“We should not lower the price of sugarcane per tonne given that demand for sugar has risen,” said the official.
He went on: “When sugar is retailing at high prices, it means millers are making profits and suppliers of the raw material should equally benefit.”
Currently, a kilo of sugar is retails at between Sh140 and Sh170 depending on the brand and location.
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Simon Wesechere, the federation secretary, wondered why the pricing committee had gone under since its last meeting in February last year.
He challenged Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Director-General Joseph Ngetich, who chairs the cane pricing committee, to act swiftly on the issue.
“We urge him (Ngetich) to convene a meeting and review cane prices based on the current sugar prices. Farmers would be happy if paid at least Sh6, 000 a tonne,” said Wesechere.
Butali Sugarcane Farmers Association chairman William Kopi said farmers ought to be paid better to guarantee millers steady raw material supply.
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“Farm inputs, including fertiliser, seed cane and other services such as ploughing and harrowing are expensive to carry, farmers deserve to be paid well to be able to meet all those expenses,” he said.
This comes about two months after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed farmers to be paid Sh2.6 billion owed to them by the struggling state-owned sugar factories.