The sugar crisis in the country is set to get worse as Busia County residents plot to cripple transportation of sugarcane to Mumias Sugar Company in a fortnight.

Busia County farmers have vowed to stop supplying cane to the country’s biggest sugar miller to protest against the company’s irregular acquisition of more than 800 acres of land in the county.

The land had been earmarked for the construction of Busia Sugar factory.

The farmers are demanding that the land reverts to the Government to enable the county seek investors to build a sugar miller that has been on the cards for decades.

The residents have petitioned the Government, which acquired the land at Sh90 million in the 1990s and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), to help repossess the land under dispute.

They are demanding that unless the sale of the land is nullified and its title reverted to a public trustee, they will stage continuous demonstrations and block transportation of cane from the county to Mumias.

Busia County supplies nearly 50 per cent of cane crushed at the Mumias Sugar facility.

Mumias Chief Executive Evans Kidero said they resolved to sell the land meant for the Busia Sugar Factory at Nasewa in Nambale Division to recover Sh100 million it had loaned to the defunct Busia Sugar Company.

The residents have since disputed the amount and the eventual sale, arguing that the land did not belong to the defunct Busia Sugar Company, but the Government which had bought it from residents as part of its percentage with investors who were supposed to construct the factory, but shied off due to "corporate interference."

The Western Development Initiative Association (WEDIA) is the group spearheading the protests and boycotts.

Biting shortages

The association’s Vice Chairman Joseph Barasa says, "We are aware of the biting sugar shortages across the country and the general low production from local factories, but we are ready to sacrifice sugar for our land to build our own factory."

According to Kenya Sugar Board records, Mumias Sugar Company is the leading producer of the scarce commodity locally.

Reports from sugar industry stakeholders and experts indicate that imports from COMESA countries to meet the escalating national deficits may not be feasible, as most of the countrieshave found lucrative markets in Europe amidst a general world sugar shortage on the global market.

source: standardmedia

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