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Government to vet and pay genuine cane farmers Sh2.6bn before Christmas

sugarcane tractor

The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture has announced plans to pay Sh2.6bn debt owed to sugarcane farmers before Christmas once vetting is complete.

According to the ministry, a committee to vet and identify genuine farmers has been formed to determine how much each one of them is set to receive for cane supplied to state owned sugar companies as from 2014 to date.

Data from the ministry reveal that farmers who supplied cane to Mumias Sugar Company are owed Sh889m, Sony Sugar Sh512m, Muhoroni-Miwani Sh474m, Chemelil Sugar Sh201m and Nzoia Sh524m.

The vetting process will begin in mid-November.

The delay experienced in paying cane farmers has led to drop in production in the produce over the last decade.

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A tractor transporting sugarcane. Courtesy

In this, the quantity of sugarcane delivered to factories by smallholder farmers in the country reduced from 7.2m tonnes in 2016 to 4.8m tonnes in 2017, representing 33.3 per cent shrinkage according to the 2018 Economic Survey Report.  This was on account of prolonged drought unfavorable to cane growth that led to harvesting of immature plants.

The report reveals that total area under sugarcane decreased to 191,200 in ha in 2017 compared to 220,800 ha recorded in 2016. The reduction in the area under the cane was attributed to conversion of land under the crop to other crops such as maize, soya beans, cassava and sorghum.

The average sugar yield per ha also reduced from 55.3 tonnes in 2017 from 62.2 tonnes in 2016, a 10.9 per cent cut.

To curb the shortage, Kenya imported 989.6 thousand tonnes with most of the imports (83.1 per cent) being consumed directly.

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