Kenyan farmers to receive 30% stake in sugar companies

Jan 13, 2010

A 30 per cent stake in five Kenyan sugar companies is to be reserved for farmers in the country, after the government announced it was to write off the majority of a billion-shilling debt and convert the rest into equity.

Agriculture Minister William Ruto said while 51 per cent of the mills will be sold to private sector "strategic" investors that can bring in skills to modernise technology, 30 per cent will go to farmers and 19 per cent put into an initial public offering after it is confirmed that the five sites in question - Nzoia, Muhoroni, Miwani, Chemelil and Sony - are profitable.
The mills' financial viability was majorly challenged by their 42 million Kenyan shilling debt to the government and the Kenya Sugar Board, Mr Ruto told Reuters.

By giving a stake to farmers in the region, it will help them access finance in a way they might not have been able to previously.

"We are particularly uplifted by the debt write-off plans because it has held back the industry for decade - and nothing seemed to move under such a load," said Samuel Anyango, National Secretary-General of the Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association.