Started in 2011, Transmara Sugar Company has grown consistently, emerging among the top private sugar mills in the country. In the financial year 2018-2019, the firm crushed about 800,000 tons of cane and produced over 75,000 tons of sugar. This is a huge increase from the previous financial year, in which 578,000 tons of cane were crushed and 55,000 tons of sugar produced.
The company’s first production was in 2012. Its capacity in 2013 was 1,250 tons of cane per day (TCD). In 2014, the capacity was increased to 2,000 TCD. This was doubled to 4,000 TCD the following year. In its medium and long-term outlook, Transmara Sugar Company targets production of 110,000 tons of sugar per annum. It also projects 4,500 hectares of cane development over the next three years. “Other projected projects include cattle feed, cogeneration and setting up of a distillery,” says Chief Executive Officer Frederick North-Coombes.
There is a new cane haulage system in place. The company has introduced the side loading system, smaller trailer of eight-ton capacity and a bigger 4WD tractor. The system reduces cane loses and damage to the fields. The introduction of transit station is also part of the new cane haulage system.
Other initiatives include weekly farmer payments, road development where the company does 100km of new roads per annum, and routine road maintenance. In the agronomy section, the company is doing several trials, soil health analyses and pest and disease survey. Over 90,000 hectares of soil have been surveyed.
“We have also determined sugar cane yield potential, identified site limitation and we routinely advise farmers on best farming practices to maximise farmer return and sustainability,” says Mr North-Coombes.
The company has also undertaken a GIS mapping of the area. It assesses farms under cane and applies professional agricultural management, all to ensure cane availability.
Transmara Sugar Company is very keen to ensure the local community benefits with employment opportunities. The total number of employees as at April 2019 was 1,333 and over 2,000 contracted labour.
“We have decentralised our agricultural operations and we now have six regional offices, which provide extension services, serve the farmers better and offer proximity,” says the CEO.
Some of the extension services provided include land preparation, supply of seed cane, fertilizer application, weeding, cane harvesting and transporting.
The company invests in continual growth of its employees. To achieve this, it has conducted numerous trainings in various departments.
There is also an intensive training programme by a service provider from South Africa – AgriclQ.
A total of Ksh10 million is to be used for the training of 700 farmers and in the Train the Trainer programme aimed at making Transmara Sugar Company Limited a centre of excellence for further farmer training.
Six employees from the factory have been sent for a three-month training in Mauritius, one of the biggest producers of sugar.
Influx of cheap sugar imports in Kenya continues to hurt the sector. In 2017, more than 900,000 tonnes of such sugar were imported into the country.
Transmara Sugar Company has stayed afloat amidst this challenge that faces the sugar sector in the country.
By RUTH MBULA