Kenya: Cane Growers, Governors Differ Over Leasing of State Firms

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Cane farmers want the planned leasing of five government-owned millers in Western region to go on, barely a week after governors from the region called for its suspension to allow for more consultations.

Farmers accuse the governors to sabotage the process for their selfish interests.

The cane growers have urged the government to ignore the county chiefs and other politicians fighting the move. The five mills were crippled by massive debts and mismanagement and the plan to lease them is afoot after the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) invited bids from both international and local investors.

The millers targeted for the 25-year leases are Chemilil Sugar Company, Miwani Sugar Company (in receivership), Muhoroni Sugar Company (in receivership), Nzoia Sugar Company and South Nyanza Sugar Company.

Last week, however, governors under the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) resolved to have a committee comprising of national government and county governments constituted to oversee the leasing and ensure legitimacy.

CONSULTATIVE PROCESS

Meanwhile, they want the process suspended until all parties agree on the consultative process.

Farmers, through the Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (KNFSF) and Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association are however, irked farmers saying this will derail the much anticipated reforms.

KESGA Secretary General Mr Richard Ogendo said the planned leasing will only succeed if politicians stay out of it. He accused the politicians of being used by private millers to tryg to derail the process.

“We are aware that there are acting for some two private millers who want to keep on harvesting cane from the expansive Miwani nuclear farm,” he added.

KNFSF national chairman Ibrahim Juma urged the governors to allow the process to proceed as planned.

“They should understand that if they don’t the plan could be overshadowed by politics in the coming months,” said Mr Juma.

According to AFA successful bidders will be unveiled on August 4. The government is looking for investors with world-class experience to redevelop the factories into large sugar complexes and manage them for 25 years.

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