By Michael Oti
Devoid of any tribal or political emotions,the following are the only facts I know of concerning the now emotive sugar debate:
1)President Uhuru Kenyatta and the few other Mount Kenya milk entrepreneurs are the stand-out direct beneficiaries of this “nonexistent” Sugar-Milk deal.The peasant dairy farmers from Central Kenya may not even benefit as much,unless Uhuru and his colleagues in the real milk business decide to increase the purchasing prices from the peasant farmers.
2)The increased importation of sugar will obviously hurt the local sugar industry and more so,the sugarcane farmers wherever they are,especially given that the imported sugar is relatively more cheaper than the locally produced sugar.This is something well beyond the control of the sugarcane farmers.
There’s nothing the farmer can do to reduce the cost of production,and subsequently the sugar prices.Only the Government can control this-but has either failed,or has just deliberately refused to do so,opting to play politics with it instead!
3)To believe that poor Kenyans can refuse to buy cheap imported sugar and opt for “their own sugar” whose prices are beyond their reach,is outright foolish!In fact,when many Kenyans,including the sugarcane farmers themselves, go to the shop,or step into any Supermarket,they are more concerned about the prices than anything else-not even the quality or even the source of whatever they are buying!They simply check on the prices and pick the cheapest.
4)Then enter the Opposition politics;the Opposition began well by demanding for the details of “the deal” bearing in mind the far reaching economic consequences “the deal” would have on the sugarcane-farming Kenyans,but somehow lost the plot somewhere along the line,probably due to some useless political advice!
The subsequent politicization,personalization and the ultimate mixing up of issues completely dismantled the Opposition course and agenda on this.
The Government has now decided to play hard ball and a pigs game with the entire thing.I can’t remember the last time our Opposition beat this Government to the propaganda game.
I’ve a feeling the Opposition will leave this battle field more bloodied than the Government.Many of us have already been informed of how some people owe sugarcane farmers millions of shillings and how they solely contributed to the collapse of the sugar sector even though we know the real reasons for the same!!
5)The planned “sugar” rallies will not change anything on this.It’s yet another thoughtless political tactic that is will achieve nothing other than saturation of the political market.The Opposition politicians run the risk of oversupplying themselves to the Kenyan political market,and just as the law of demand of supply dictates,losing their value and prices!!!
6)To ask Kenyans to boycott certain products associated with certain political opponents yet you offer them no alternative to the same is to miss the mark by far!!It will simply boomerang on the owners of this initiative. Those who came up with this crazy idea perhaps do not understand that majority of Kenyans are too poor to even afford things like processed milk-it’s simply a luxury to them.
What would otherwise be the target audience-the middle class and upper class Kenyans,are just too informed to buy such crap. They cannot even do without it!They must use milk,unless on medical grounds or to “cut weight”!!!
The Opposition must think very deep and very hard going forward.We must get both our strategies and our tactics right!
I’m out of the sugar-milk debate…..