By SAM ALFAN.
The construction of the first sugar factory in Busia County kicked off on 30th April 2014.
The 3.6 billion shillings factory was commissioned by Busia County boss Sospeter Ojaamong at Busibwabo in Matayos constituency where the groundbreaking ceremony was held.
According to Busia Sugar Industry Ltd administrator Omar Dhadho the factory is expected to create over 500 jobs directly and hundreds others indirectly.
“The new factory, which will be operational in a year’s time, is expected to reduce transport costs to farmers and help improve infrastructure,” he said. He added that the factory, which will be built on a 10-acre piece of land, is expected to crush 3,000 tons of cane on a daily basis.
Additionally Dhadho said 4,000 cane farmers have been contracted on 8,000 acres. He was accompanied by the firm’s agriculture officer, Hassan Atudo and county chief of staff Robert Papa,
He said they are targeting 30,000 farmers with an estimated acreage of 67,000 under cane in the entire county. This will therefore see them realize their dream.
Last year two farmers from Kakamega County moved to court to block the construction of a sugar factory in Busia arguing that the law prohibits another factory from being built just within a radius of 40km.
Busia Sugar Industry Ltd now joins the league of Mumias, Nzoia, West Kenya and Butali sugar companies in the fight for the region’s market and battle to control cane farmers.Mumias Sugar has the highest crushing capacity at 8,000 tons of cane per day.
West Kenya crashes 3,500 tons per day. Nzoia is third with 3,000 tons while Butali has a daily crushing capacity of 1,550 tons.
Butali Sugar Company is putting up a power generation plant that will add 12 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
This is likely to make Butali Sugar Company as the second sugar factory after Mumias to generate electricity besides making sugar.
Mumias Sugar has diversified its production to produce ethanol, electricity and water to cushion itself from the lifting of Comesa safeguards.
In 1993 the Kenyan Government signed the Comesa treaty putting into play free trade among member countries. However this saw the opening of a floodgate of imported sugar that later affected local sales of all sugar companies.