KENYA: Farmers given control as government fears new sugar crisis
A draft bill has been proposed by the Kenyan parliament to rationalise the sugar sector in a bid to prevent another sugar crisis. The country is currently facing an extreme sugar shortage as farmers are looking to grow more profitable plants, such as tobacco, or crops such as maize for subsistence.Currently, sugar farmers are paid on a basis determined by the government and are left, on average, with about US$5 per tonne of sugar cane after deductions from farm inputs and hired labour. This lack of control that farmers have within their own businesses is one of the major points the bill hopes to re-address. If it is passed, farmers will find themselves significantly empowered; able to negotiate with millers for the best prices and elect a CEO for a new board, which would oversee the sugar sector.MP Wycliffe Osunda, chairman of the Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources Committee, has revealed his plans to travel to the other major sugar-producing countries, including India, Jamaica and Mauritius, to understand how the industry works abroad. Future policy can be decided upon when the committee has studied the other frameworks governing the sugar industry and the basis on which the farmers are paid.
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