The Bitter cane of Mumias

Sugarcane being ofloaded

Western Kenya which is known for green land because many agriculture work is done there especially for sugar cane and maize but people normally ask why is that people who live there are poor and they produce a lot of sugar cane.

Sugar cane farming is facing hard time which makes the future of cane farming to be doubtful. Many of cane farmers are facing a lot of problems and challenges made by cane farming which makes the farmers poorer than richer.

Many cane farmers in Mumias which is the capital of sugar farming in the county are now embracing the planting of other crops like maize and cassavas rather than planting the sugar cane. Many complain than Mumias Sugar Company is always subjecting them to losses or negative results despite they work they do into the farm and the time they spent in there with their families and finances but at the end they get nothing after the harvest.

Also farmers say that sugar cane farming take long to mature around 18 months compared to maize which take less than six months to be harvested and produce a good yield. Every time they harvest the sugar cane and expect to get good money but what they get is a debt return where it means that they owe the company the money and they are supposed to pay the company.

“How do you expect me to sell my sugar cane to the company where I make losses rather than profit, I better quit the cane farming or sell my cane to a private company like west Kenya Sugar Company where I know I can get something”. Said Wanyama a sugar cane farmer. ​

Many farmers protest that the tonnage the Mumias is using is fake because they weigh sugar in their absence and they don’t trust them. Most of them protest that the tonnage they get is not equivalent to the cane they produce and they need it to be done right it the farm where they can witness.

The company don’t take farmers complain serious due to the collapse of their sacco called Mumias Outgrowers Company ( MOCO) about four years ago.

The company is blamed widely for making room for few who work for them and pay them huge salaries that make them live better lives compared to the farmers who are backbone of the business most.

Most farmers sweared to face out the cane farming at the end of contact they have with Mumias.

The unproductive soil which is due to the chemical fertilizer they use every year is a major concerns that the farmers need the government to address and solve the issue.

Many farmers in the sugar region are living in object poverty with majority living in grass thatched house despite planting the product for several years. They also blamed the company for importing the sugar and repack it under their name.

One farmer said that smuggling of foreign sugar through the Busia border also affect the farmers where the company don’t have potential clients and consumers opt to go cheap sugar. He claimed that many supermarket has packaged sugar under their name without explain the real source of that sugar because that sugar is really cheap compared to sugar that are under the companies name. he suspect that also the leading supermarket may be participating in sugar smuggling in the county without the notice of the authority.

The cane farmers though the primary producer of sugar cane without which no miller can exist are yet the most marginalized and last on the payment chain in the sector.

They plant sweet crop but live bitter lives, the question is when will this sweet crop make their life sweet?


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