State promises to pay KSh7 billion arrears to cane farmers, staff

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Director Samuel Ong’ow. Photo: Fredrick Odiero

The government is keen on paying cane farmers and staff of sugar companies who are owed money in terms of unpaid arrears.

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Director Samuel Ong’ow said the government has initiated payment of about KSh6.94 billion which is owed to farmers and staff of the sugar companies.

Speaking in Muhoroni Ong’ow said the process will commence once a number of legal hurdles have been cleared.

Earlier, State Department for Agriculture PS Paul Rono said that the move follows the approval by Parliament for leasing of five state-owned and controlled sugar companies.

They include Nzoia, South Nyanza, Muhoroni and Chemelil sugar companies.

“Following the approval by Parliament for leasing of the five sugar companies and payment of all farmers and staff arrears as per Certificate No.039/13th/2023 from the National Assembly, the State Department of Agriculture wishes to inform farmers and staff who work/worked in sugar companies, that the government concluded audit of debts and is now ready to pay the arrears,” he said in the notice.

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Rono told farmers and staff owed by the companies to urgently confirm their bank details with the management of the sugar companies in readiness for disbursement of the verified arrears.

“You are notified that the direction on Miwani Sugar Company will be provided once the pending court cases are determined,” the PS said.

Nzoia Sugar Company owes farmers and staff KSh2.11 billion, Sony owes KSh2.05 billion, Chemilil owes KSh1.38 billion and Muhoroni owes KSh1.39 billion. In total, the five state-owned sugar companies have an outstanding debt of Sh128.07 billion.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Committee of the National Assembly chairman Dr John Mutunga also earlier said the government has provided money to redeem farmers’ long term indebtedness.

“We identified the debts that included money owed to the staff working in these sugar factories, money owed by the sugar factories to farmers, and then we have money owed to the government in the form of non-remitted dues, and we also have money owed to KRA in non-remitted taxes,” Mutunga said.

“The money owed to the staff will be factored into the negotiation process of those who will lease the factories so that no one loses their job,” Mutunga said.

“I believe they will negotiate with whoever is likely to lease and look for a modality of paying off the workers so that we have a retention formula that will help avoid loss of jobs,” he added.

Ong’ow said the government has confirmed that sugar farmers and staff of sugar companies who are owed money will start getting paid.

He said the government has initiated payment of about KSh6.94 billion which is owed to farmers and staff of the sugar companies.

By Fredrick Odiero

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