Stakeholders in the sugar industry including Farmers, Government officials, Political leaders and the Academia fraternity today, Friday, converged at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) for the 2023 Sugar Conference convened under the auspices of Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) and the County Government of Kakamega to chart the way forward on the future of the industry in the region.
Kakamega Governor H.E FCPA Fernandes Barasa who has remained passionate about the plight of the sugarcane farmers welcomed the visitors in the County terming the conference a good platform for the stakeholders to hold a discourse with an intention of diagnosing the challenges and prescribing a cure for the ailing sector.
Governor Barasa recalled that at its peak, the industry contributed 15 percent of the country’s Agricultural Gross Domestic Product, according to the 2019 Sugar Industry Stakeholders Taskforce Report; and called for formulation and operationalization of policies that will guide its resuscitation.
FCPA Barasa also reiterated the need for the National Government to release all devolved functions together with the resources as alluded to by H.E President William Ruto.
Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Moses Wetangula who was the Chief Guest said clear regulations have to be put in place to regulate rogue players who are using unfair tactics such as cane poaching.
He revealed that a motion seeking to write off debts owed by sugar millers will soon be debated at the floor of the National Assembly; which if approved, will see the National Treasury annul debts amounting to Shs 117 Billion.
LREB Chairperson H.E Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o asked the National Government to let go of management of State owned sugar companies to the private sector and called for reclassification of sugar as food and not a commodity.
Kakamega Deputy Governor H.E Ayub Savula on his part urged stakeholders to work towards reintroduction of the Kenya Sugar Board saying the same will see the sector well regulated and promoted.