The Sugar Directorate declined to issue Sarrai Group a permit to resume cane milling at Mumias after halting the operation in July.

The government had previously ordered the investor to vacate the premises in August, but they are still put on the site and even sought permission to resume milling.

The Kenya directorate has permitted a few millers with mature cane to resume milling on a limited schedule to prevent the harvesting of immature cane.

Milling of sugar was stopped on July 27, 2023, as the government took drastic action to save farmers from losses occasioned by the harvesting of immature cane.

According to the Sugar Directorate, selected millers with available cane can resume milling but on a small scale, with a restriction to crush no more than 600 tonnes of cane per day and operate for a maximum of 15 days a month.

There have been concerns about the Ugandan-based investor in Mumias attempting to mill sugar despite lacking their own cane and not having contracted out-growers to supply raw material.

Additionally, there have been reports of cane poaching among millers, with accusations of this practice becoming more frequent.

The directorate informed selected millers to resume sugar milling at a low crushing capacity, based on the cane availability survey conducted on September 19, 2023.

These developments coincide with heightened tension at the once-largest sugar miller in the country following the government’s announcement in August that they were seeking a new investor to take over operations.

President William Ruto ordered Sarrai Group to terminate their lease at Mumias and leave the premises, arguing that their operations had not benefited local farmers.

The Court had previously halted the miller from processing sugar this year after its top officials were held in contempt.

Mumias sugar, a once-revered brand in the market, returned to store shelves last year after nearly a decade of absence, when the new investor, Sarrai Group, won the leasing tender to revive the plant.

Sarrai Group secured the lease for Mumias Sugar Company’s assets and was tasked with revitalising the collapsed sugar milling company in 2021, winning a bidding process that spanned over four months.