Sugar news

While Sugarcane production dominates the income sources for households in cane growing communities, contributing an estimated 40-60 percent of household income, hunger and malnutrition is prevalent in the sugarcane growing areas. This is due to lack of land use policy and diversification framework at the farm level to promote food production.

However, the significant contribution indicates that cane farming business play a bigger role not only on the achievement of Vision 2030 but also to Government Big 4 agenda as an enabler in food and nutrition security and manufacturing industry. However, smallholder cane farmers are prone to exogenous and endogenous changes that have effect on cane production, efficiency, growth and incomes. In addition to this, though sugarcane is an industrial crop, its production is planned in the short-run basis in which revenue only cover variable costs. Family labour, land and equipment are not considered.

The right to food is a core human right which, though frequently emphasized in various protocols and national policies, have nonetheless been systematically violated. While Kenya has developed her policy frameworks according to international policy framework; Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) and continental policy framework; the Maputo Declaration in 2003, commitment to invest at least 10% of national budgets in agriculture and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); implementations have been low. Integral parts of these frameworks are international specific provisions on right to food. These  include; 1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Art.25(1) provides for right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of person and family; 2)The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognizes the right to adequate food within the context of ensuring and adequate standard of living. The covenant reiterates the right to be free from hunger as a fundamental human right. For the national governments to implement the international laws, they are obliged to pursue and adopt policies supporting access to the minimum daily nutritional intake. The right implies a need for policies capable of improving food production, food storage and distribution as prerequisite in ensuring access to food.

National policy and legal provisions on the right to food include 1) Article 43(1) (c) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on the freedom from hunger and the right to adequate food of acceptable quality; 2)The Food Security Bill 2014 Sec 5 (2) For the enjoyment of the right to adequate food and freedom from hunger, the National and county governments shall--(a) respect, protect and fulfill the human right to food and guarantee mechanisms for its enforcement.; 3) The new Food and Nutrition Security Policy (FNSP) provides an overarching framework covering the multiple dimensions of food security and nutrition improvement. It has been purposefully developed to add value and create synergy to existing sectoral and other initiatives of government and partners. It recognizes the need for multi-public and private sector involvement, and that hunger eradication and nutrition improvement is a shared responsibility of all Kenyans. The policy and associated actions will remain dynamic to address contextual changes and changing conditions over time. This policy is framed in the context of basic human rights, child rights and women’s rights, including the universal ‘Right to Food’.

As SUCAM, we believe that an informed and all-inclusive engagement with duty bearer (national and county government) will promote physical, economical and social access to food through production, purchase or through programmes implemented by the State to ensure that the right to food is actualized. This we believe that we can do through our experience in lobbying and advocacy.  This will be done through citizens participation frameworks to develop relevant plan and budget for food production in Specific County.

SUCAM believe that this is appropriate in sugarcane growing counties because; 1) cane production has dominated farming activities giving little room for production of staple and other high value crops. This has affected access to food in these regions. For example Kisumu County is fed by food imports from Uganda and from neighboring counties of Rift valley. Engagement and participation in planning and budgeting process is able to improve the situation; 2) established structures in the sugar industry will ease planning and budgeting for provision of extension, farm input and services, financing and marketing of produce; 3) sugarcane as an industrial crop. Planning and budgeting for integration with staple and high value crops will increase net earnings to farmers in the county; 4) Expiry of COMESA safeguard measures can spell doom to regions where cane is grown. This is a threat that need good plan at county government level where options can be assessed and adopted.