‘Hired goons’ dis­rupt Nzoia farm­ers’ meet

‘We do not recog­nise of­fi­cials of an un­reg­is­tered en­tity. Let’s leave now’

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Western - JOHN NALIANYA @jon­a­liash

Chaos broke out yes­ter­day in Bun­goma county when two groups of sug­ar­cane grow­ers fought in Bukembe mar­ket, leav­ing sev­eral peo­ple in­jured.

They had con­vened to be ad­dressed by of­fi­cials of the Kenya Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Sug­ar­cane Farm­ers.

Juma Sikuta, a farmer al­lied to Nzoia Sugar Com­pany and its af­fil­i­ate Nzoia Sugar Out-Grow­ers’ Com­pany, con­fronted the of­fi­cials and told them farm­ers do not recog­nise them.

“This group of con peo­ple is here to con­vince our farm­ers to back it. We do not recog­nise of­fi­cials of an un­reg­is­tered en­tity, which is on a money mint­ing spree. Let’s leave now,” he said, spark­ing may­hem.

AP of­fi­cers were called in to re­store or­der. Farmer Jo­ram Wan­jala sup­ported the fed­er­a­tion and con­demned the goons hired to cause chaos.

He ac­cused them of work­ing on or­ders from of­fi­cials of Nzoia Sugar Com­pany and Nzoia Sugar Out­grow­ers’ Com­pany.

NFSF sec­re­tary gen­eral Ezra Okoth blamed the sug­ar­cane prob­lems on the millers. “The ma­jor­ity of farm­ers are con­sid­er­ing up­root­ing the crop be­cause of poor pay and frus­tra­tion. The fed­er­a­tion stands with farm­ers. They should be paid hand­somely be­cause they are the sole raw ma­te­rial pro­duc­ers,” he said.

Okoth urged millers to raise farm­ers’ pay from Sh3,554 to Sh3,800 per tonne of sug­ar­cane. He threat­ened to call for a farm­ers’ boy­cott if the millers will not solve farm­ers’ prob­lems.

NFSF chair­man Ibrahim Juma said they are re­cruit­ing all farm­ers, out­grow­ers’ com­pa­nies and other as­so­ci­a­tions.

Nzoia Sugar MD God­frey Wany­onyi and Nzoia Sugar Out­grow­ers’ Com­pany chair­man Christopher Si­funa dis­tanced them­selves from the ruckus.

“How could we do such a thing to our farm­ers? We even sent our of­fi­cers from the pub­lic re­la­tions of­fice to the meet­ing and the firm was well rep­re­sented,” Wany­on­myi said.

/JOHN NALIANYA

Armed youths walk away af­ter they dis­rupted a farm­ers’ meet­ing in Buke­mebe, Bun­goma, yes­ter­day

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