The Mumias Sugar Company opened its doors on Friday to receive cane from farmers as operations began in the once giant miller.
In two weeks time, the company will start releasing sugar to the market as the Kenya Bureau of Standards among other agencies are set to conduct compliance tests.
The management has already recalled 787 former employees with more staff expected to report on Monday in the sugar packing area.
According to Stephen Kihumba, the manager in charge of operations and administration, more former employees will be engaged on a need basis with more opportunities expected to open up in the Cogen and Ethanol plant.
Kihumba promised the miller will be paying farmers supplying the cane weekly without any delays, promising Kenyans that the miller is a company to watch out for, with farmers expected to reap from their investment in sugarcane farming.
He urged farmers to plant sugarcane and only harvest mature cane that have attained 16 months to get the correct weight and sucrose content, and in turn realise maximum benefit from their sweat.
The company has set the price for a tonne of sugarcane at Sh6,050 which has seen other millers adjust their prices for the benefit of farmers.
The Agricultural and Food Authority has directed the company to start crushing 2,500 tons of sugarcane per day for a period of two months up to the end of January.
AFA will then advise whether to increase the crushing capacity or to continue with the current rate after a survey to determine the amount of sugarcane in the region.
According to Kihumba, Mumias Sugar Company has a capacity to crush 8,400 tons of sugarcane per day which will be realised once the miller becomes fully operational.
Mumias Sugar has been clustered to operate in the lower Kakamega region together with Kibos Sugar Company and Olepito.
“We believe we can give more support to our farmers because we are sure the cane we receive is coming from within our region, there is no transfer of cane to other regions,” he added.
He said they have planted sugarcane on 1,400 hectares of the 3,400 hectares’ nucleus land owned by the company.
“I wanted to do 1,800 to 2,000 hectares this year, so that by next year I will be able to cover it all. But what I can say is that currently, we have sufficient seed cane from the 1,400 hectares of nucleus to be able to plant the remaining part of the nuclear estate,” he added.
“Cane development is key for us for this company to be sustained, we need to get back farmers on board. Farmers who had already given up, who had been frustrated, we want to tell them it is time they go back to their farms. They will earn better, they will be paid promptly and they will get the sufficient support they may so require,” he said.
The company will also increase the freight in terms of tractors to help in transporting sugarcane as more farmers are signing up with the miller.
“I also take this opportunity to thank the government, the President, the county governor and the leadership for the support they have given us. For standing with us and even prevailing upon many of the legal masters that have been there,” he added.
Source: The Star