How the government is reviving the sugar industry and western Kenya regions

How the government is reviving the sugar industry and western Kenya regions

Mkulima today the sugar industry is on its knees and there are several millers that have closed its doors leaving several Kenyans out of work. How the government is reviving the sugar industry and western Kenya regions.

Stalled cane factories lease back on track with the governor of Kakamega leading the talks together with the ministry of agriculture.

Today there is hope. After several meetings, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel this is how the government is reviving the sugar industry and western Kenya regions

The journey to bring back sugar growing in the region to productivity has been long with the leadership of the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) taking a strong lead in steering the process.

Through their lobbying, H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta formed the Sugar Task Force that eventually produced the report which recommended leasing as opposed to privatizing the mills.

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The Sugar Task Force which comprised members from both levels of government and players in the sugar sector was co-chaired by the then Cabinet Secretary ministry for Agriculture Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

The signing of this agreement is part of the long journey that the LREB leadership has had to make to midwife the process of the revival of this sector in the region.

The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers (KUSPAW) on Thursday, August 20 agreed to withdraw a case challenging the process of leasing five state-owned sugar factories.

The journey

After a day-long meeting that included CEO Abala Wanga and sugar stakeholder representatives at Lake Region Economic Bloc offices in Kisumu.

KUSPAW General Secretary Francis Wangara and the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) chair Governor Wycliffe Oparanya signed a bilateral agreement that could see the withdrawal of the case from the floors of the courts and corridors of justice.

In the agreement, that was witnessed by Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o on behalf of the Bloc and lawyer Peter Onyango for Kenya Union of Sugar Plantations and Allied Workers.

Conditions

However, the union said certain conditions including the assurance of payments of workers outstanding arrears must be met.

In its demands, the union wants a case of salary arrears and statutory deductions are considered during the leasing process.

During a media briefing, Governor Oparanya thanked the Association for embracing the greater good and accepting to withdraw the case. “All that we have ever done in this whole process is to put the interest of the farmer first. There would be no sugar sector just as it is today unless we have satisfied farmers”, he said.

Governor Nyong’o who accompanied his Chairman at the said that revival of the sector is going to revitalize agro-processing in the region. “With functional mills, the sector will create an environment that will attract more investments leading to more job opportunities.

Clear Arrears

The union also wants the government to state clearly which millers will clear the arrears owed to workers and that if there is a dispute from arrears the government will take over.

“The consequent to and upon the gazettement of the general secretary the union shall withdraw the case,” read the agreement in part.

KUSPAW also wants the union’s general secretary to be a member of the interim management committee on leasing of state-owned sugar mills.

The Kisumu County Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o and LREB chief executive officer Abala Wanga witnessed the agreement after a meeting on Wednesday.

A Kisumu court last week issued an injunction halting the leasing process until the case filed by the union is heard and determined.

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