Enforce penalty rule on millers who delay famers’ pay, Government urged.

Sugarcane farmers in Southern Nyanza now want the state to implement the rule compelling millers to incur penalty for late payment of harvested sugarcane.

They lamented that the law passed in Parliament in 2021 to slap millers with a penalty for delaying farmers’ payment has never been invoked, leaving farmer to continue wallowing in poverty.

Parliament approved changes to the Sugar Bill, 2019, that sought to force millers to pay growers within a specific time or in default be slapped with fines for late payment.

Clause 33 of the Bill that was amended by Parliament introduced a rule that forced millers to pay sugarcane farmers within 30 days of accepting delivery or otherwise pay interest on the sum due at market rates, plus a penalty of 3 per cent per month on late payment.

And yesterday, while criticizing the Agriculture Ministry for failing to protect suffering farmers using the available law, the chairman of Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Mr. Ezra Olodi said it was time CS Peter Munya invoked his powers to ensure millers released the billions of shilling they owed farmers for past cane deliveries.

He claimed that to date ailing state-owned factories such as Sony, Mumias, Chemelil, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni owe farmers and lenders billions of shillings which the state has been trying unsuccessfully to clear on behalf of the millers.

“This sorry state of affairs of not paying farmers on time for their cane deliveries has rendered our farmers to turn into paupers, beggars and people who cannot fend for their families,” said Mr. Olodi.

Sony Sugar, which has contracted over 1,500 farmers is said to be holding over Sh1billion in arears of farmers dues and the pending bills continue to mount every month.

A forced 70 percent payment arrangement by the Sony management for cane delivered at the factory from each contracted farm or none-contracted farm is making farmers poorer as the balance of 30 percent accumulates from a number of farmers’ cane fields that has not been paid since 2020.

The federation boss said while the intention of the sugar Bill was good to protect growers from millers’ arbitrary decisions on farmers’ money, the ineptness of government officers in implementing the law to the letter has dashed farmers’ hopes of enjoying fruits of growing the crop and even jeopardized the growth of the industry in the country.



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