Mumias Sugar to resume ethanol production - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 12 February 2021

Mumias Sugar to resume ethanol production


The management of the financially struggling Mumias Sugar Company is planning to restart ethanol production which was disrupted in the last one month due to a shortage of raw material.

The miller has started the process of fermenting molasses after sourcing 2,000 tonnes from mostly private millers in Kakamega County.

A management official told the Nation: “We now have managed to source 2,000 tonnes of molasses to enable us kick-start our operation after a month of inactivity due to shortage of raw material.”

The receiver manager, Mr Ponangalli Venkata Ramana Rao, has focused his attention on ethanol production to generate revenue to sustain operations after earlier plans to revive milling operations buckled.

Plans by Mr Rao to restart sugar milling operations continue to face hurdles 15 months after the miller was placed under administration by a bank.

The receiver manager appointed by the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) took over operations in September 2019 and had earlier indicated that part of his plan was to revive milling operations within a year.

Mr Rao has kept a low profile for several months and he is reported to have last visited the factory in March last year, sparking unease among workers.

Yesterday, Mr Rao did not respond to calls made to him for a response on the issues raised by workers at the factory and the progress made on the planned revival of the factory.

“The receiver manager has kept away for too long and that has affected  running of the mill because of the delay in making key decisions. At the moment, we are only receiving communication through emails and holding meetings remotely,” said an employee at the company.

The county government has contracted the services of the Commodities Fund to coordinate plans to advance loans to sugarcane farmers to improve cane production and ensure adequate supply of raw material to sustain operations at the factory.

Last month, the fund’s Board of Trustees chairman, Mr Samson Okioma Mwancha, signed the memorandum of understanding at the county headquarters to facilitate the loaning facility to sugarcane farmers.

The partnership between the county government and the fund will enable cane growers to access loans at affordable interest rates for improved production of raw material to sustain operations at the sugar factory.

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said economic activities in Kakamega County had been jolted after the miller stopped operations more than two years ago.

“As a government, we have a duty to support farmers who want to engage in sugarcane growing as we work towards reviving Mumias Sugar Company and supporting other existing sugar millers in the county. The MoU will ensure sustainability in sugar development in Kakamega County through affordable financial lending to farmers,’’ said Mr Oparanya.

The county chief said Sh50 million had been set aside by the devolved unit to support the initiative.

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