Nairobi — Azimio La Umoja Coalition lawmakers have faulted the move by the government to close sugar factories in the Western and Nyanza region deeming it as a move by the government to stifle economic livelihoods in the region.
Led by National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi they have decried that the closure of sugar mills initiated by the Agriculture and Food Authority on claims of shortage of cane supply in Western and Nyanza.
The lawmakers demanded for the immediate resumption of milling by all sugar millers saying the closure move is an economic sabotage.
“The letter issued by the Sugar Directorate on July 17 this year was a total mischief, making Agriculture and Food Authority a willing participant in the evil schemes by the State to sabotage and kill the economies of the Luo and Luhya nations for their political beliefs and positions,” said Wandayi.
Wandayi called on AFA Board to develop and regulate the sugar industry for the benefit of farmers in Nyanza and Western as equal taxpayers.
He stated that in the report by Agriculture and Food Authority that there is deficit of cane production totaling 951,195 tons by June 2023, affecting Kibos, Sony, Mumias, Sukari and Kwale mills is a political agenda.
“According to that same report, Trans Mara, Butali, Naitiri and Olepito sugar mills would have adequate cane supply, it does not add up that in a vast sugar belt where millers are free to buy cane anywhere, some factories in the same belt would be cane sufficient while others are cane deficient,” said Wandayi.
Kisumu Central MP Joshua Oron said that Agriculture and Food Authority has no mandate to occasion close of the sugar factories in Nyanza and Western region saying the move is aimed at creating a shortage to benefit cartels in the Sugar sector.
“We want to be told how Agriculture and Food Authority will regulate against flooding of imports at the expense of local production and What strategies it put in place to ensure adequate cane supply upon resumption of the mills,” said Oron.
The Opposition lawmakers questioned why the government was focused in cash crops like coffee and tea yet other cash crops like sugar were suffering especially from their political bastions.
Agriculture and Food Authorities announced the closure of milling operations in the Western and Nyanza zones.
AFA Acting Director Jude Chesire said that Sugarcane milling operations in the Western region temporarily cease operations with immediate effect for a period of four months to allow sugarcane to mature.