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Farmers want Comesa order extended

The Standard, Nairobi

Farmers want Comesa order extended

By Beauttah Omanga

9 April 2007

Sugar cane farmers have added their voice to demands that Government seeks an extension of the Comesa moratorium, which comes into effect from early next year. The Kenya Sugarcane Grower’s Union officials petitioned President Kibaki to lead the extension campaign to enable local factories and market get ready to compete with the imports from the region.

Led by their secretary general, Mr Ezra Orodi, the officials demanded that Agriculture minister, Mr Kipruto Kirwa, calls an urgent stakeholders’ meeting to deliberate on the possible effects of the Comesa treaty. They also demanded that the Government comes up with means of speeding up harvesting of their over-matured cane and ensure they were paid promptly.

"We want the minister to prepare the farmers on what to expect when the market opens," said Orodi and a director, Mr Charles Ongiyo.

Speaking in Kisumu recently, the minister said he would seek the extension of the moratorium for the benefit of the Kenyan industry and farmers.

MPs from the sugar belt have also said an extension was needed, saying the Kenyan market was not ready for external competition.

Miller managers, led by the Mumias Managing Director, Mr Evans Kidero, expressed fears that if the extension was not granted, chances of Kenyan factories collapsing were high.

Before the opening of the Kenyan market, the farmers demanded that Agricultural inputs be reviewed to reduce production costs and put in place a marketing agency through which all brands brought into the country would be sold alongside the Kenyan product.

That, argued the farmers’ representatives, will put under check corruption in marketing of the commodity.

They also want the factories to move with speed and adopt new production techniques that will result to production of by-products, among them molasses, ethanol and electricity, to subsidise sources from which they will get funds to run their daily affairs.

Kidero complained that already Egypt had started abusing the Comesa rules by shipping in sugar from Brazil, which they were later selling to Comesa countries.