The Government Monday released KShs 1.1 billion shillings to clear all arrears owed to cane farmers in Nyanza region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the funds release at the Sony Sugar Company grounds in Awendo when he presented the company with a KShs 447 Million cheque to clear arrears till June this year, all owed to cane farmers in Migori.
Muhoroni and Chemilil sugar cane farmers will also benefit from the KShs 1.1 billion.
President Kenyatta directed sugar processing companies to pay farmers their July and August dues immediately as the commodity prices are now favourable.
“You should now start paying farmers promptly. There is no need for you to continue delaying payments to farmers who deliver their cane in your factories. Payments to cane farmers should be prioritized before other expenditures,” he said.
The President said the Government has already deposited money in the accounts of the respective sugarcane companies, who should pay farmers within the next two days.
He then called on the companies to restructure their operations and diversify their production. “Do not depend on Government hand-outs but rather seek partnerships with other investors to diversify your activities in other areas such as ethanol and power production,” he told them.
Equally, the President warned illegal sugar importers that the Government would not tolerate unscrupulous traders out to frustrate cane farmers efforts.
He said the Government has also given out subsidized fertilizer and formulated a programme under which all farmers can access farm inputs.
He next called on Migori County to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture to help cane farmers diversify their farming activities.
“The world we live in is very dynamic, things keep on changing, and therefore you should not rely on cane farming but rather diversify your farming activities. Get involved in horticultural farming, dairy keeping, and fish farming which will cushion you when challenges occur in cane farming,” President Kenyatta said.
Sony Sugar company managing director Jane Pamela Odhiambo thanked the President and Government for their support, saying the company requires more funds to enable it to modernize and diversify its operations.
On his way to Migori Primary School to launch the mass distribution of durable insecticide-treated mosquito nets, President Kenyatta made stopovers at Awendo and Oriri town centres to acknowledge greetings from wananchi.
He called on leaders to learn to tolerate and respect one another, saying democracy enabled voters to make decisions during elections and thereafter forget political differences and come together to unite the people.
“Elections should not be the source of enmity but rather like sports where players come together to shake hands congratulating the winner. As President, I will serve Kenyans equally. Those who voted for or against me are Kenyans with the rights to make choices.”
He disclosed that: “Raila and I normally take tea together, I don’t see the reason why you should have animosity. Kenya is one, no Kenya without Migori, no Kenya without Kiambu or Mombasa. Why should you fight when you have been living together and sharing even the basics of life?”
Local leaders led by Governor Okoth Obado expressed their gratitude to the President for giving out money to clear arrears owed to farmers.
They said they were ready to partner with the national Government to improve the livelihoods of all Kenyans.
Others who spoke included Migori Senator Dr. Wilfred Machage, area MP Jared Kopiyo, and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Kosgei.