Muhoroni, Chemelil economies in peril as sugar millers go on break
Shop owners, transporters, bars set to feel brunt of 3-month closure as cane matures
KISUMU I Factories in the Nyando sugar belt will take a threemonth break to allow sugarcane to mature before harvesting, further hurting the economy of Muhoroni and Chemelil.
The closure comes just days after the directorate warned it would withdraw operational licences of millers harvesting immature cane.
Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) said millers from the region had discussed the matter with the directorate on suspending harvesting for a while.
Most cane within the Nyando region is about 13 months old, which is not ready for harvesting. The variety that is mainly grown in the country matures at about 24 months for a new plant or at 18 months if it is a ratoon crop.
“Millers within this region have requested to take a threemonth break to enable the cane to mature before they embark on production,” said the AFA.
The millers include Muhoroni, Chemelil and Kibos. However, Kibos said it is not breaking at the moment.
The closure of Muhoroni and Chemelil look set to further cut the flow of money in the region with transporters, harvesters and contract staff in the millers expected to be out of work for three firms. Auxiliary businesses like shops and bars are expected to feel the brunt.
The sugar directorate has been investing on early maturing cane to cut over-reliance on the common variety that takes long to mature. The new variety is estimated to take 12 months.
The AFA said last week it had warned millers against breaching the contract that they have entered into with farmers, which only allows them to harvest mature cane.
Millers have entered into contract with farmers with the dates when the cane is supposed to be harvested clearly stipulated.
Kenyan millers use the weight based method to pay farmers and when immature cane is harvested it means the cane will not weigh much, subjecting growers to low earnings.
The move has also subjected millers to high cost of production as they are using more raw material in processing sugar.
Ordinarily, millers are supposed to use 10 tonnes of cane to produce one tonne of sugar but most of them are currently using 12 tonnes.
Millers have been struggling with an acute shortage of raw material to mill, subjecting the country to reduced production of the sweetener in the market.
SUPPLY Sugarcane is o loaded from a tractor at Chemelil sugar fractory in