By Seliphar Machoni
Since last year, the revival of Mumias Sugar Company has been a rallying cry for every leader in Kakamega County. During the August 2022 election campaign, some politicians even used it as their slogan to attract voters.
The conversation continued even after these same politicians won their seats. Now, there is a struggle over which investor would be best suited to revive the company. Will Mumias Sugar Company ever regain its former glory?
Mumias Sugar Company was established in July 1971 but started experiencing financial difficulties in September 2019, causing over 1689 employees to lose their jobs when it collapsed.
The sugar company used to be one of Western Kenya’s proudest assets and remains a highly emotive topic among locals today. Despite being one of Kenya’s largest sugar producers at one point, poor management led to its downfall.
To fulfill his promise to Kakamega residents and cane farmers, current Governor Fernandes Barasa is doing everything he can to revive the declining company amid political wrangles surrounding it.
In a recent meeting with Kakamega residents, Governor Barasa assured sugarcane farmers that he would do everything possible within his capacity, as an experienced sugarcane farmer himself, to revive Mumias Sugar Company.
“As the Governor of Kakamega, my goal is not only for this company’s resurgence but also for local communities’ benefit,” he stated.
Governor Barasa believes investors are responsible for the unstable operations at the company since they have failed to utilize its vast acreage estate fully.
“Recently Agriculture and Food Authority directed millers’ suspension of stated operations for four months until cane matured,” said Barasa.
“It has been eighteen months since Sarrai Group promised operation revitalization at Mumias Sugar Company yet invested only ten percent into expected cane development,” he added.
Barasa promises a sugar conference where stakeholders will discuss decisions on how best practices could contribute towards economic empowerment by ironing out challenges facing Kenya’s sugar industry while finding ways towards revival.
“It is essential we hold candid conversations involving experts and stakeholders like millers or members from Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) who possess fourteen members rich in sugars, “he said, “this discussion will take place on next month’s eighth day at Bhukungu Stadium.”
President William Ruto during his five-day working tour around the Western Region pledged new milling machines replacing old ones in Mumias Sugar Factory enabling effective crushing processes.
“We must fix our Nzoia Sugars factory alongside our Mumia’s factory; I promised you that I’ll bring modern crushing machinery so that we can replace outdated ones making sure factories run smoothly,” Ruto added confidently.