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    Sugar cANE fARMING kenya

    By George Munene

    The minimum buying price of sugarcane has been reviewed from ShSh3, 700 per tonne to Sh4,040 as of April 1, 2021.

    Also announced was the setting up of sucrose testing units in cane growing zones that will mark a migration to quality rather than a quantity-based system of compensation.

    The 10 per cent rise marks the first appraisal of the price of cane in the country since 2018 and is in line with the recommendations made by the interim Sugarcane Pricing Committee constituted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

    Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya urged any farmer being paid less by a miller to report them, warning; “Any cases of non-compliance will attract a fine of not less than Sh50, 0000 or one-year imprisonment as per Section 37 of the Crops Act, 2013.”

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    Speaking at Kilimo House, Munya added that by end of June the government will have finished setting up sucrose testing units in all sugarcane growing zones. This will mark a migration to a quality-based system of compensation meaning pay for cane will be tested before being delivered to the miller and what is paid to farmers pegged on the sugarcane’s sucrose content. 

    For predictability and creating a level playing field within the sugar sector, the government will also be reviewing all contracts between growers and millers. “We want farmers to know when they grow their cane it will not rot in the farm but be harvested within a specified period, Munya said. With the new parameters set to be implemented within the sector, millers will also have seven days to settle payments to farmers after they deliver sugarcane to them.

    While lauding the measure, Nzoia Outgrower Company chair Christopher Sifuna cautioned; “farmer’s bigger problem is not the buying price of cane but payment. Since 2019 Nzoia Sugar Company as an example has amassed farmer debts of close to seven million shillings. Companies that do not pay farmers within the stipulated period should have their milling permits revoked until they have paid the debts owed to farmers.”

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    Farmers also still contend that this increase still does not truly reflect fair value for their cane. The price rise is based on a single cane byproduct; sugar; however, millers have branched out into making use of several other sugarcane byproducts by setting up distilleries and paper-making plants these returns have as yet to trickle down to farmers. 

    Kenya’s expected sugarcane consumption for the year is anticipated at 1.07 million tonnes against an expected production of 660,000 tonnes.

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    Tommy Atkins Mango Variety 1024x768

    By George Munene

    The Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) is setting up a project for Kenya’s 12 main mango producing counties that will help them in accessing the more commercially lucrative international market for their fruit.

    This will be done by supporting farmers in these counties by training them on how to produce quality, pest and disease-free mangoes that will easily find a market internationally. 

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    The program follows the resumption of direct export of Kenyan mangoes to Europe in September this year after a seven-year ban instituted by the EU due to Kenyan mangoes having a high fruit fly load.

    MARKUP, a partnership program between the European Union and East African Community also aims to help farmers find markets, especially in Europe for peas, snow peas, passion fruits, nuts, chilies, herbs and spices. Increasing the value of both extra and intra-regional agricultural exports will serve to improve farmer livelihoods and by extension the economy of member countries.

    “Communities will increase revenues that the country gets when we import our products outside of the country and generally this will create jobs from the farmer group level, exporter and at the national level,” Maina Karuiru, MARKUP’s National Project Coordinator said at the project launch at Makueni.

    For his part, the County’s governor Kivutha Kibwana congratulated the program as it will help farmers at the grassroots level get better returns from their mango farms.

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    163588782 4083237085061310 2540057060532388389 o 1

    By George Munene

    Availability and cost: these are the main drivers that have seen Kenyan animal feed traders opt to source the concentrates needed by farmers to increase output in animal production from neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.

    “I can get 50 kilograms of maize bran from Uganda at a wholesale price of Sh900 which I’ll then sell for Sh1000 to farmers. Buying the bag from Kenyan millers costs Sh1100 which will mean having to sell it for Sh1200 to make a profit. A Sh100 price difference is a lot for a small-scale farmer looking to cut down on their production costs, naturally most opt for the cheaper alternative,” explains Wellingtone Serem a feed wholesaler at Eldoret.

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    Similarly, he points out wheat bran bought from a local milling company sets him back Sh842 and is sold to farmers for Sh950, while a similar 50-kilogram bag costs Sh760 imported from Uganda, this he can sell for a slightly cheaper Sh850.

    The unavailability of local raw material has also driven Kenyan traders to source from her two neighbors. “If I relied solely on Kenyan milling factories to stock my shelves with animal feeds I would have already shut down my shop. Wheat bran is almost never available from wheat milling factories in the country, with the little that is offered coming nowhere near to satisfy existing demand,” Serem says.

    The case is similar for cotton seed cake with only one company based in Kitui producing the by-product of ginned cotton. This constitutes no more than a drop in the ocean of what the market needs. The same applies to sunflower seedcake which he gets from suppliers in Tanzania and Uganda where its supply is plentiful.  

    These feed constituents can be fed to cows singularly but are often assembled by farmers to make a dairy meal facsimile. With the ever-rising price of dairy meal in the country, farmers are now opting against buying from manufacturers, choosing instead to make their own which reduces their cost of production.

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    However with a tonne of these raw materials costing over Sh800,000 to bring across the country’s borders, very few farmers are able to source for feeds individually. Wellingtone also notes that it takes time to establish trustworthy sources; “I have been to homes of the people I work with in both Uganda and Tanzania, this is vital as the whole business works off trust: I might send one million shillings and be put on a queue and have to wait for when the feeds become available. Once available I have a broker who sources trailers looking for return goods and loads them before they get back into the country.” he explains.

    Quality checks are conducted by Kephis at the country’s border to ensure any feeds entering the country meet the set efficacy standards.

    Wellingtone Serem: 0723092409

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