KENYA: Cane farmers storm Mumias demanding unpaid dues

Published: 04/05/2018, 11:53:26 AM

Sugar cane farmers who supplied cane to Mumias Sugar Company on Wednesday stormed the factory demanding to be paid their dues which had run into arrears for more than three years, according to Kenya's Business Daily Africa newspaper.

The more than 200 outgrower farmers accused Mumias Sugar of using the police and armed youths to chase them away every time they visit the factory to seek their payments.

George Machanja, a farmer, said he supplied Mumias with cane in 2015 but had not been paid KES93,000 (US$920.5) in proceeds with similar amount accruing for the supply made in 2016 and 2017.

Masoso Okari said he was unable to pay fees for his children in secondary schools and the university after failing to be paid his dues after he supplied cane to the miller in 2016.

"It's very frustrating that every time we come to Mumias to ask for our payment, we are chased away by police officers and armed youths as if we are robbers. Where were the police and the crooks when we were planting this cane?" posed Okari.

They demanded to be addressed by chief executive Nashon Aseka who was said to be in a meeting with national government officials.

Mumias had promised to pay farmers who supply them with cane after two weeks but this has not come to pass.

Aseka told the Business Daily that the majority of the farmers who had not been paid supplied cane from 2016.

"When I took over last year, I inherited a debt of KES900 million to farmers. We had reduced the debt to KES600 million from the government's KES500 million bailout funds but it is again accumulating," he said.

Aseka said he was willing to clear the farmers' arrears but was incapacitated due to a lack of funds.

He said the company faces acute cane shortage, which had forced it to stop production of sugar.