Cane stakeholders want taskforce report availed for public validation
A group of sugar stakeholders in Western Kenya have petitioned the government to reconsider the taskforce report for public validation before its implementation starts.
The stakeholders under the umbrella body christened Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Association (KNASFO) claimed that the report whose final recommendations are yet to be released by President Uhuru Kenyatta did not reflect the actual views of farmers and other sector players.
Led by Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Organization (KNASFO) chairman Saulo Busolo and Kenya National Sugarcane Growers Association (KESGA) Secretary General Richard Ogendo, they asked the government to give farmers an opportunity to corroborate the draft report before its recommendations are implemented.
According to Busolo, the report in its current form will would be half-baked without valid input of sugar stakeholders across the country.
He asked newly appointed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to convene a meeting with cane farmers and millers with a view of validating the authenticity of the taskforce report.
“The public participation that was taken in that taskforce report has been falsified. We demand that the new CS meet with farmers and the sugar millers to find out if it really reflects on their collected views,” said Busolo during a press briefing in Kisumu on Friday.
Ogendo claimed that preparation of the report was hijacked by ‘cartels’ in the sugar sector.
He argued that draft report was captured by some cartels who altered the genuine views of farmers.
Ogendo told the new CS to come up with raft of measures that could help revamp the sugar industry and spur growth, noting that it was critical in the growth of the country’s economy.
“We laud the President for the move to appoint a new CS to head the agriculture docket. We strongly believe he (the CS) will bring in new strategies to development the struggling sugar sector,” he said.
Kenya Association of Sugarcane and Allied Products (KASAP) chairman Charles Atyang’ called for the restructuring of the sugar industry, a move he said could enhance its development and economic growth.
Atyang’ asked President Uhuru to make sweeping changes in the sugar directorate and public millers boards in efforts to rescue the ailing sugar sector.
He also demanded that a forensic audit be conducted in the public mills to recover lost funds before the planned privatization takes off to rescue the factories from collapsing.
Atyang’ proposed the prosecution of individuals believed to have run down the sugar industry.
“Those who looted the sugar industry should go to jail if the government is serious about fighting corruption,” he said, noting that nothing can go on in the sugar industry without an overhaul of the sugar directorate.
The KASAP chairman urged the government to lay emphasis on the revival of the sugar industry the same way it has announced radical plans to revive tea and coffee production.
A report which is scheduled for release later this year by the President was strongly opposed by section of farmers and sugar sector stakeholders.
A parallel alliance led by Busolo emerged and dismissed the 16-member government task-force co-chaired by immediate former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, claiming that it was not properly constituted.
Farmers allied to the parallel outfit, insisted that they were sidelined in the formation of the government team following a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The government task-force was meant to investigate the sector crisis and present recommendations to the government for action.