• Tuesday, 25 June 2024
THE STATESMAN TALK: Meet Rai, the guy responsible for half of Kenya's sugar production.

THE STATESMAN TALK: Meet Rai, the guy responsible for half of Kenya's sugar production.

After the rich Rai family opened their fourth milling plant in Bungoma, he now controls at least half of the sugar produced in Kenya.

The Naitiri Sugar Company, which began milling in May, is the latest addition to the family's sugar complex, which now spans the entire country.

Rai's position as the main sugar manufacturer is strengthened by the new factory, which expands the capacity of his existing three mills in West Kenya, Olepito, and Sukari.

Mumias' collapse, which formerly controlled about 60 percent of the country's total sugar production, and the failure of other state-owned millers have created a void that is now being filled by the private sector.

The firms, led by chairman Jaswant Rai, have enlarged their cane catchment area to include Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu Counties, which are largely maize-growing areas.

According to Saulo Busolo, former head of the Kenya Sugar Board, there is no harm in millers increasing their market share to bridge the country's sugar deficit.

"The things we should be asking are if the corporation in question pays farmers immediately after harvesting and if they grant permits for cutting cane on time," said Mr. Busolo, who also serves as the chairperson of the Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Association.

Mr. Rai's desire to invest in sugar was demonstrated last year when he competed for the lease of Mumias Sugar Company through his West Kenya Sugar Company.

However, in court filings, KCB's receiver manager stated that he declined Rai's offer to lease the ailing miller since doing so would have given him a dominant position in the sector.

The contentious lease was granted to his brother's Uganda-based business, which also operates many sugar mills in the neighboring country. Courts eventually halted the tender after West Kenya filed a challenge to the award.

Sarrai Group is a Ugandan conglomerate comprised of various agro-manufacturing enterprises that operate three sugar mills annually, generating over 170,000 tonnes of sugar. It also has a presence in Malawi.

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