An early maturing cane that could be commercialised soon by the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (Tarda), could help address the sugar deficit in the country. The authority, which recently launched its five-year strategic plan, said this project is in its to-do list.
Speaking at the launch, Tarda managing director Steven Ruimuku said: “Sugar consumption in Kenya is at 800,000 tonnes annually, while the production is at 600,000, leaving a deficit of 200,000 tonnes. We just need 25,000 hectares to bridge this gap with an early maturing cane variety”.
He said small-scale farmers should be lumped together for easy management and provision of services. “With this, we can easily administer irrigation, crop husbandry and harvesting.”
On the western belt, cane takes 19 months to mature while at the Tana Delta belt it takes just nine months.
“This is due to the wet, humid climate of the region,” Mr Ruimuku said. To assist the authority on the project, an advertisement will be placed for a partner by next January.
“We will advertise worldwide for ‘expression of interest’. Applicants must show their track record in cane production. We are targeting about 70,000 tonnes per hectare,” Mr Ruimuku explained.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said regional development authorities (RDAs) play a key role in implementation, development and management of trans-county resources of national government interest.
“They are mandated to develop long-range integrated regional development plans. These plans take into account all the existing conditions, problems and resources available for accelerated and coordinated social and economic development in respective river basins,” she said.
The strategic plan is expected to run from 2014 to 2018 and has outlined other projects, such as building power stations, dams and irrigation schemes within its jurisdiction.
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