Kiunjuri rules out talks with the rival sugar review team

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Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said the ministry will not receive a report prepared by a lobby currently undertaking a parallel review of sugar laws, setting the stage for further confrontation even as industry players seek to end perennial woes.

Mr Kiunjuri has instead blamed the lobby calling itself Sugar Campaign for Change (Sucam) for the aborted meeting between the ministry-backed taskforce and farmers a fortnight ago.

He said the lobby has been frustrating official efforts to resolve issues affecting sugar farmers in the country.

“This lobby has been sabotaging efforts of the taskforce and I am not going to engage them,” said Mr Kiunjuri.

He said the parallel exercise by the lobby means that it is out to counter what the taskforce is doing in order to get to the bottom of the matter. Saulo Busolo, chairman of Sucam, told the Business Daily that they will present the report to Mr Kiunjuri once they are done with stakeholder engagements.

Sucam started its countrywide campaigns last week with a number of meetings lined up in western and coastal Kenya.

“The current taskforce lacks the representation of farmers and so we want to conduct our own survey that will bring together all stakeholders,” said Mr Busolo.

Cane farmers argued before that membership of the 16-member task force did not represent their interests even though the CS maintained that the team would talk to cane growers, outgrower institutions, millers, transporters, cooperative societies, cane-cutters and local leaders.

The taskforce, which Mr Kiunjuri co-chairs with Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, suspended its public engagements indefinitely after a section of farmers threatened to block its forums over pay delay.

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