Sugarcane growers’ organisations reacted cautiously to news of Sarai Group Uganda leasing of the ailing Mumias sugar plant.
The Kenya Association of Sugar and Allies Products secretary-general Peter Odima has said that the association does not understand the investor unless we’re given more information about it.
“We don’t have a problem with any company that will make the machines roar back life and do what benefits farmers. It should be a company that means what they tell us,” he said.
Ponangipalli Ramana Rao, the receiver’s manager, revealed on Wednesday that the Uganda-based Sarai Group has secured the lease of the once-premier miller’s main assets for recovery over a 20-year term. The lease, however, excludes the Ethanol and Cogen units.
Odima stated that the new corporation should embark on a significant cane development programme, first with farmers hired by Mumias and then moving on to private farmers to assure consistent availability of raw materials.
“It must have a big budget for farmers so that we don’t slide back to where we found ourselves before the miller went under,” he said.
Odima suggested that the investor find a method to fire off all previous employees, reward them, and recruit new employees to operate the new-look firm because they were the reason of its demise.
According to Simon Wesechere, deputy secretary of the Kenya Federation of Sugarcane Growers, farmers and other stakeholders are concerned and would wait for the investor to inform them what he plans to do with the facility that will help them.
Wesechere claimed that the Sarai Group is associated with one of the powerful political families and farmers are not sure the leasing is meant to address their challenges or exploit them.
“The investor must begin the revival of the out-growers’ institution as the sure way of empowering farmers and establish a vibrant technical support mechanism to entice farmers,” he said.
Wesechere stated that the lease should implement an intensive cane development programme, beginning with farmers hired by the miller before it went bankrupt, and then moving on to private farmers to assure a stable supply of cane.
Politicians, he says, should stay out of the resurrection process since they simply participate in political intrigues for their personal gain, leaving farmers to fend for themselves.
Rao stated that Sarai Group has a demonstrated track record of running three sugar mills, a distillery, and power generating in Uganda when announcing the tender award to the business.
He stated that the company is dedicated to starting asset restoration as soon as possible in order to resume operations as soon as possible.
Sarai Group is a Uganda based conglomerate of diverse and inter-related agro-manufacturing companies, with over 20,000 employees, across East and Southern Africa, with operations in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.