In Summary
  • Operations at Chemelil, Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies have ground to a halt, due to cane shortage compounded by managerial and financial problems.
  • There are talks of alternative options of cash crops to encourage the farmers to diversify. But no one is willing to place a lid on the era of cane farming.
  • Plans to ensure economic viability of the region that has been dogged with politics for many years take shape, efforts to save the ailing sugar industry are still rife.

Politicians in Nyanza region’s sugar cane growing zones are encouraging farmers to venture to new cash crops, even as they argue they support efforts to revive the ailing cane sector.

The public standpoints of these leaders could perhaps define the policy confusion facing sugar farming, whose fortunes has been on a free-fall in the last two decades.

Already, operations at Chemelil, Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies have ground to a halt, due to cane shortage but also compounded by various other managerial and financial problems.

In Nyanza, which also has South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony), a public miller, there are talks of alternative options of cash crops to encourage the farmers to diversify. But no one is willing to place a lid on the era of cane farming.

INTERCROPPING

Mr Raila Odinga, the leading politician in the region, whose word is almost taken as the law, last week hinted to farmers in Nyanza region to consider intercropping avocado with other crops.

This, he says, will help in diversification and end over reliance on certain produce.

Mr Odinga has already introduced an avocado specialist, Mr Edwin Ng’ong’a in two occasions in Nyanza, the first one being in Migori and Siaya Counties.

Mr Odinga revealed that already there were one million avocado seedlings ready for planting.

But even a plans to ensure economic viability of the region that has been dogged with politics for many years take shape, efforts to save the ailing sugar industry are still rife.

Even though farmers in the region were keen on rice and sorghum growing, there are all indications cane is still a highly regarded crop.

SORGHUM FARMING

Kenya Breweries Limited targets 15,000 sorghum farmers in the next five years, offering a guaranteed market for the crop following its investment of a Sh15 billion brewery in Kisumu town.

The brewery is expected to create 100,000 indirect jobs, from the farms to the Senator Keg distribution chain in Western and Nyanza counties.

Ms Jean Kiarie, Kenya Breweries head of sustainability programme has since challenged the youth to embrace sorghum farming as the region gears up for launch of the brewery.

Speaking at Busia Agricultural Centre during an entrepreneurship summit hosted by KBL in partnership with Busia County Government, Ms Kiarie said the brewer was sourcing material locally to entice farmers into sorghum farming.

“We are implementing a ‘West for West’ strategy in our local sourcing of sorghum which seeks to have majority of raw materials for Kisumu Brewery sourced from the Western and Lake regions of the country,” Ms Kiarie added.

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