Mumias Sugar Company will start leasing farms in order to develop its own sugarcane, chief executive officer Errol Johnson has said.
Mr Johnson said the arrangement will help the miller expand acreage under the crop and prevent perennial raw material shortage.
Speaking in Mumias Town, Mr Johnson said the company experienced acute cane shortage during the fourth quarter of the last financial year, thus affecting operations.
He said the situation was worsened by an increase in the number of new sugar mills without requisite cane development programmes in place leading to unhealthy competition.
“We are exploring possibilities of leasing farms so that we can develop our own cane,” he said, adding that production has reduced between 30 per cent and 40 per cent due to raw material shortage.
The CEO said the decision to do away with cane zoning had created loopholes for poaching that has left the company counting huge loses.
Mr Johnson accused rivals of poaching immature cane, financed and developed by Mumias at less than eight months old even though a mature crop should be harvested at 18 months.
“This cane has no commercial value to a miller, and the farmer is losing 60 per cent value of his crop through early harvesting,” he said.
The cane average yield has remained low at 45.03 tonnes per hectare compared to 49 tonnes recorded the previous year, he said.
He said, the company has been forced to protect its catchment area to salvage the remaining crop.
He noted that cane development increased by 4.2 per cent translating to 3,364 hectares planted during the previous year.
Mr Johnson said the State-owned company managed to recruit 6,000 new farmers and conducted awareness creation to win over several others who abandoned the crop the previous year.
He said the firm has embarked on the circulation of promised new varieties with a shorter crop cycle.
“So far 230 hectares have been planted and this will be extended to cover 2,300 hectares in the next two years,” said Johnson.