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Why Western Kenya Farmers Have Abandon SugarCane Farming

why western kenya farmers have abandon sugarcane farming


People from the Western Kenya are popularly recognized for their commitment to farming. They are excellent poultry (especially chicken, locally referred to as ingokho), maize and cane farmers. Whereas ingokho and maize combine to provide a rich, healthy diet, cane farming only serves to impoverish these hardworking men and women.

To begin with, a farmer who toils for over 12 months in his 1 acre piece of land only stands a chance of producing about 35 tons of raw cane. A ton of cane attracts a price of between kshs. 2000 and Kshs. 5000. Even if we take the highest possible price per ton offered by Sugar Companies, this translates to a mere kshs. 175,00. This is gross income for the farmer, for a period of over 12 months. When input, labor and other costs are deducted from this little amount, anyone can accurately guess the net income for the helpless farmer. Let’s be generous enough to guess that he remains with Kshs. 100, 000 from his painful months of waiting.

Taking kshs. 100,000 as a farmer’s income for 12 months, monthly income comes to as low as Kshs. 8,333.33. Let’s assume there exists a vegetable vendor X, who sells vegetables in a kibanda and makes a daily profit of kshs. 400. Roughly, vendor X makes a minimum of Kshs. 12, 000 every month, translating to an annual income of at least Kshs. 144,000, compared to the farmer’s exaggerated annual income of Kshs. 100,000.

The question is: why pay more for less? Cane farmers are extremely hard-working. They deserve appreciation, not extortion, oppression and exploitation. Unfortunately, these are habits which may never be rooted out of Kenyan Sugar Companies anytime soon. However, farmers  rightfully deserve better lives because of their hard work and commitment to this activity that is pivotal to the nation’s economic stability.

Ultimately, Western Kenya farmers need to make a drastic decision; a decision to thwart cane farming and embrace other less strainuous economic activities that pay a little more. For instance, vegetable farming and serious poultry farming are each worth 10 (even more) times the value of cane farming, assuming the cost of production is constant.

high poverty levels in the region, poor transport infrastructure and insufficient social amenities are credible grounds for people from Western Kenya to initiate rigorous awareness campaigns that seek to drive individuals towards personal economic empowerment. This has to begin with the thwarting of the non-beneficial cane farming as an economic activity in the area.

About the Author

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Hailing from the fertile highlands of central Kenya, Wamugunda-Anne's life has always been intertwined with the land. Born into a family of farmers, her earliest memories are of verdant fields, changing seasons, and the rhythm of nature. These formative experiences would later shape her academic and professional pursuits.

Wamugunda-Anne's passion for agriculture was not just about the practice but understanding its deeper implications — the sociological, environmental, and economic intricacies of farming in Kenya. This passion drove her to one of Kenya's prestigious universities, where she pursued a degree in Agricultural Sciences. Throughout her academic journey, she became renowned for her insightful articles on sustainable farming practices, emphasizing the balance between modern techniques and traditional Kenyan agricultural wisdom.

After university, Wamugunda-Anne transitioned into a full-time career in agricultural journalism. Her works have since been published in numerous national and international journals. Beyond just writing, she has played a pivotal role in shaping agricultural policies in Kenya by collaborating with policymakers, researchers, and local farmers. Her articles often focus on the challenges faced by Kenyan farmers, sustainable agricultural practices, and innovative solutions to boost food security in the region.

Today, Wamugunda-Anne stands as a beacon of inspiration in Kenyan agricultural circles. With every article she writes, she hopes to enlighten, inspire, and pave the way for a sustainable agricultural future for Kenya and the African continent at large.

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