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Court orders sugar miller to pay farmer for burnt cane

February 3, 2014


A Migori farmer Monday won an unprecedented case requiring a sugar miller to pay compensation for mature cane that was burnt on the farm after harvesting delays. The Court of Appeal reversed decisions by lower courts that South Nyanza Sugar Company Limited ( Sony ) should not compensate the the farmer, John Richard Okuku Oloo , for the cane that was contracted to the company. "The orders of the High Court and those of the subordinate court are hereby set aside and we substitute thereof an order entering judgment for the appellant/plaintiff as prayed," the Court of Appeal ruled. Judges Sankale Ole Kantai, Erastus Githinji and Onyango Otieno also ordered the value of the cane be paid with interest from 1998 when the case was filed and that Sony meets the cost of the suit. Mr Oloo moved to the magistrate court 16 years ago seeking compensation from Sony , which delayed harvesting the cane by three months before arsonists struck. The miller contracted Mr Oloo in 1995 to grow sugarcane on his 0.2 hectare parcel of land in Kanyimach East in Migori District and to sell to it once it was mature, usually after 24 months. The agreement was to remain in force for five years but the cane was torched in October 1997 . Mr Oloo reported to Sony where he was asked to give samples of burnt cane for sampling and laboratory testing for its suitability. The cane was found to be suitable but the miller did not harvest it, causing the farmer losses. He filed a case at the Migori Magistrate Court seeking compensation for breach of contract, at a price of Sh1,553 per tonne and a yield of 135 tonnes per hectare. The parcel of land in question, would have yielded 27 tonnes, earning Sh41,931 before interest. Sony alleged that the harvesting delay was caused by tribal clashes and that the cane samples had found the "first expressed juice with apparent purity content of below 83 per cent". The magistrate court dismissed the suit in July 1999 . The High Court in June 2010 found that Sony had breached the contract and had no evidence of clashes hindering harvests. However, it declined to give Mr Oloo any compensation.

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Source: Business Daily (Kenya)

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