Sugarcane farmers want the government to involve them in the ongoing discussions on reforms in the sector saying they have been sidelined. The farmers have also formed their own parallel taskforce that they aim to use to present their own views to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to the farmers, the government has sidelined them from the discussions when they are the key people being affected and who can help in coming up with long term solutions to the issues facing the sector.
Farmers have disclosed that millers, who tend to be key stakeholders in the task force formed by the government are the same ones who are exploiting them.
“The task force assembled is a sham and amounts to the government talking to itself, investigating itself and concluding by itself,” said Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (KNFSF) national Treasurer Stephen Narupa.
They accused Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri of establishing a 16-member team without considering farmers who form a critical part of the sector.
Among the challenges being faced include inadequate production of sugar for national consumption which has, in turn, denied farmers steady.
When forming the taskforce, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said that the main objective of the Taskforce would be to identify the challenges facing the sector and recommend a lasting solution(s) to the problems that have been eating the industry.
Some of the challenges that the industry has been facing include; low cane supply, cane poaching, aging equipment, obsolete technology, high debt portfolio, farmer’s arrears, staff salary arrears/non-remittance of statutory deductions, lack of regulations, poor corporate governance, lack of sector funding, excess sugar importation among others.
The task force is mandated to review the policies in place, legal, regulatory and institutional framework of the sugar industry and make appropriate recommendations.
The task force is mandated to review past, present and emerging challenges facing the sugar industry and make appropriate recommendations on importation and taxation structures in the sugar sector.