Kenya’s western sugarcane farmers have opposed local miller’s intentions to import and re-brand the sweetener for sale to customers.

Farmers warned that the practise would lead to millers neglecting their core role of crushing cane.

Simon Wesechere, Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers’ Deputy Secretary General said millers  should not be engage in sweetener imports.

“Millers are only supposed to crush cane to avoid conflict of interest. It’s through sugarcane production that the livelihoods of over 150,000 farmers will be sustained,” he said. 

Farmers want a sustainable approach to cane shortage, opposing imports.

“Importing sugar is a short term remedy meant to benefit sugar barons, investors and a few people at the expense of farmers. If firms don’t want to mill, they should close down or change their business,” Wesechere said.

Last month, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said millers, particularly those experiencing cane shortages, could be given the green light to import and re-brand sugar locally.

He said imports are expected to cancel a deficit of 400,000 tonnes in production.

However, analyst fears that the directive is prone to abuse by sugar barons.

Kenya National Sugarcane Farmers Union deputy secretary Atiang’ Atyang’ said a factory cannot depend on importation.

“We are wondering why the directorate does not have a timeframe for importation.

The Sugar Directorate issued permits to all private millers to import 150,000 tonnes of the commodity ahead of the expiry of the Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) duty-free window.

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