By Sofia Ali
Sugar farmers now have a reason to smile following government announcement to revamp the sector. The government through the Agriculture cabinet secretary (CS) Peter Munya, on the 18th June 2020, announced that it is in its final stages of creating a sugar board that will give recommendations on how the work will be implemented
CS Munya was speaking in Nairobi yesterday were he assured the sugar cane farmers in western region of Kenya that the government is considering all ways of seeking funds to revamp the sector including leasing out the non performing government sugar mills to the private sector and also colleting levies in order to get funds that will be used in writing off all the debt that have been accumulating.
The agriculture CS has been on the forefront in the fight to revamp the agricultural sector in the country since his appointment. He however has obstacles ahead of him as the sugar industry in the country has been struggling.
Some of the major challenges that the sugar industry has been facing include Competition from foreign producers arising from economic liberalization where global trade de-regulation present challenges to the sugar industry sub-sector of the Kenyan economy.
Multi-lateral and regional trade treaties, specifically those associated with COMESA, EAC and WTO, have facilitated the importation of sugar into Kenya at minimal or Zero tariffs from producer member states. In addition, the sugar imported, is in most cases, heavily subsidized by its source Government. This has had an adverse impact on the marketability of quality locally produced sugar; which because of its high production cost relative to imported sugar, cannot compete head to head with foreign sugar in the domestic and foreign markets.
Speaking in the presence of a section of leaders from western Kenya, CS Munya said that apart from the sugar industry he was also looking into other areas such as cotton and coffee where the government has finished sensitizing farmers on coffee farming in eastern region. “We will be having a meeting with world bank this afternoon to complete the process of accessing more money to start the process of coffee farming in western Kenya” said Munya.
The funds is expected to go towards improving the infrastructure in the factories. “We are meeting with farmers in July. We want to make it very clear that coffee is being revamped across the country not just eastern region” He said.
The meeting that was attended by leaders – three governors, four senators and 20 MPs from Western Kenya and CSs’-.Notably was the Ministries of Agriculture (Hon. Peter Munya), chairman of the Council of Governors, Wycliffe Oparanya, Devolution (Hon. Eugene Wamalwa), Water (Hon. Sicily Kariuki) and headed by interior minister Fred Matingi at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in Nairobi County