March 25, 2019
Hilton Otenyo (The Star) | https://goo.gl/suyP4a
The task force appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to recommend how to revive the sugar industry will start writing its final report this week.
The task force is co-chaired by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri.
The team held its final public hearing at Mabanga Technical Training Institute in Bungoma on Friday.
Oparanya said on Friday that they will retreat to Kisumu starting this week to compile its final report and present its recommendations to the President next week.
He said that the task-force has invited all MPs from the sugar belt to meet Kisumu to be taken through the recommendations before the report goes to the President.
He spoke at Roddy’s hotel in Emuhaya subcounty in Vihiga county.
Oparanya said that his team wants the leaders to understand the recommendations, what they mean and agree to them. Then they will be able to mobilise support for the report in parliament.
The President ordered the formation of the task force during last year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kakamega.
He also directed that Kiunjuri and Treasury CS Henry Rotich work out a formula to pay sugarcane farmer arrears of Sh2.6 billion.
The government has so far paid farmers Sh 1.9 billion owed by state-owned millers. The farmers are contracted to Mumias, Nzoia, Sony, Chemilil and Muhoroni Sugar Companies.
During hearings, farmers asked for gazettement of sugar regulations to end confusion in the sector.
They also want reintroduction of sugar zones and reinstatement of the repealed Sugar Act.
Farmers asked that the scrapped Sugar Development Levy be reinstated to help the development of the industry. They also want a ban on excessive cheap sugar imports to help stabilize the industry.
Oparanya said that it will be hard to help the majority privately owned Mumias Sugar Company if the shareholders don’t agree to the government plan.
Oparanya said a committee should be formed to collect the shareholders’ views before the task force presents its final report.