Cane farmers laud move to raise price of produce

Sugarcane farmers at the Coast have welcomed a move by the government to increase the price of produce delivered to millers. Kwale Sugarcane Growers Association Chairman David Ndirangu said farmers were excited at the prospect of increased earnings. There are about 1,000 small-scale farmers who supply the Kwale International Sugar Company with cane. The company was revived in the late 90s after the collapse of Ramisi Sugar Company. “This is a big boost to sugarcane farmers. It will help improve our lives especially during these very depressing times with Covid-19 pandemic hitting us hard,” Mr Ndirangu said.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya (pictured) last week said an interim sugarcane pricing committee constituted by his ministry had approved an increase in the price of a tonne of cane delivered from Sh3,700 to Sh4,040 effective April 1, 2021. Ndirangu said they remained upbeat that more farmers would venture into cane farming in the region. “We have favourable weather and some of the best cane varieties that are fast maturing and disease free here,” he told The Standard. Mr Munya directed millers to adhere to the new prices while paying farmers. “Any case of non-compliance will attract a fine of not less than Sh500,000 or serve a year imprisonment as per Section 37 of the Crops Act, 2013,” the CS told millers.

He said cane prices had stagnated at Sh3,700 since the last review in 2018. In the Coast region, only the sugar factory in Kwale County has deployed latest techniques to grow its cane on its nucleus farm using drip irrigation. Application to grow cane and set up milling plants in the neighbouring Kilifi and Tana River counties have been received.