Kenya’s state-owned sugar companies are currently facing a challenge, with a collective debt exceeding Ksh128 billion as of June 30, 2023, as revealed by Molo MP Kuria Kimani. This significant financial burden poses an obstacle to the growth and sustainability of the nation’s sugar industry.
Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs) from Kisumu and Migori, along with Members of Parliament (MPs) representing Muhoroni, Awendo, and Kanduyi constituencies, are urging the Committees of Agriculture and Livestock and Finance and National Planning to address outstanding payments owed to cane farmers and sugar factory workers.
This issue was discussed during a meeting on September 5, 2023, where the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock and the Committee on Finance and National Planning engaged with Kisumu stakeholders to discuss the revival and commercialization of state-owned sugar companies as seen in a report by People Daily.
A proposal emerged to lease community-owned land for sugar cane farming, gaining support from MPs who argued that this approach could boost yields and alleviate the burden on smallholder farmers.
However, MCAs present voiced opposition to the proposed merger of sugar factories, as suggested by the National Treasury, citing concerns about potential monopolies and adverse impacts on industry competition. Instead, they recommended developing a land leasing formula that guarantees a certain percentage for farmers.
Kanduyi MP John Makali, Muhoroni MP James K’Oyoo, and Awendo MP Walter Owino advocated for writing off debts and tax penalties owed by state-owned sugar companies. They argued that such a move would provide these companies an opportunity to commercialize and grow without the weight of accumulated debt.
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Furthermore, lawmakers from sugar-growing regions called for ending sugar importation and implementing protective measures against such imports to safeguard the interests of local sugar producers.