West Kenya Sugar Company has raised the price of sugarcane for its farmers from $32 (Sh3,200) per tonne to $34 (Sh3,400), making it the highest paying miller in western region, a move that could reignite price wars among factories operating in the zone.
The firm announced the new payments Sunday edging out other millers such as Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) which pays $33 a tonne, Butali sugar $32 while Nzoia Sugar Company pays $30.
According to West Kenya head of Agriculture Paramasiram Praba Karan, the move is meant to attract more farmers to deliver the raw material to the factory to enable it operate optimally. “We want to encourage more farmers to venture into cane farming,” he said.
Mr Karan said low payments had contributed to farmers abandoning the crop. “We don’t want to see our farmers uprooting cane due to poor income, that’s why we have decided to increase the price,” he said.
Speaking in Sivilie village, Navakholo Sub County, Kakamega County, Mr Karan said the new rates take effect immediately. The move is likely to renew price wars between West Kenya Company and other millers who have been scrambling for the scarce raw material. Most millers are operating at less than half their capacity due to shortage of sugarcane. Mumias has so far lost 750,000 tonnes of cane to poaching.
Farmers who spoke to the Daily Nation welcomed the move, saying the new price will encourage more to invest in the crop.