Food safety News

Sugarcane farmers call for tough action on condemned sugar suspects

The 25-kg of milk that was seized by detectives at a go down in Mowlem, Nairobi on May 16, 2023. The product is said to be unfit for consumption- DCI

Cane farmers in western region are calling on the government to move in swiftly and arrest all suspects who participated in the release of condemned sugar which continues to be repacked in various parts of the country.

Sugarcane growers drawn from Kisumu County and Busia County say arrest illegal sugar importers have been the biggest contributors to their current economic afflictions which have also stalled growth in the sugar industry.

On Wednesday last week, 27 individuals including Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director Bernard Njiraini and other from KEBS, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) were suspended over the irregular diversion and unprocedural release of the condemned sugar.

“It is our plea that the government deals decisively with all those who have been adversely mentioned over illegal sugar importation especially the echelons at the sugar directorate and thorough investigations be launched so that truth be established on how such illegal sugar gained entry into the country because the company that has been mentioned in the case is in the first place not even legally registered to import sugar into the country,” said Richard Ogendo, a sugar farmer in Kisumu County.

The 27 official who have since been charged are accused of releasing 20,000 bags of 50kg of the condemned sugar imported in 2018 and which had been identified as unfit for human consumption.

“So it is in this sense that we as an organization feel that the government should not sacrifice small people but strike hard on the principal officers in charge at Kilimo House towards bettering the welfare of the ministry” noted Ogendo.

Director of Busia Outgrowers Company Lambert Ogochi has expressed concern that some sugar that was condemned by the relevant authorities had found its way into the market.

Ogochi lamented that factories from Western Kenya region like Busibwabo, Olepito West Kenya, Kabras and Tongaren were struggling to produce sugar yet some companies were still importing the commodity.

“What is worrying is that there is a lot of corruption within the sugar sector,” he said, adding that repackaging of toxic sugar was taking place.

He argued that the government knows the companies that were carrying out the vice and should crack the whip immediately.

Ogochi urged the government to subsidize fertilizer prices as a way of motivating farmers so that the issue of cane shortage is addressed.

Sugarcane farmers are further urging the government to consider sugar prices from the current Ksh 5,500 to Ksh 7,000 as a way of motivating farmers, fast track the Sugar Bill 2011 and facilitate the return of the Sugar Board which was the regulatory body of the sector.

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