Integrating Sustainability Ethics in Commercial Sugarcane Farming in the Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya
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Since its introduction, large-scale commercial sugarcane farming has not significantly improved the living standards of particularly small-scale farmers in the western Kenya sugar belts. Being a monoculture production system, environmental loss associated with it, particularly loss of biodiversity cannot be overemphasised. Lately, sugarcane farming is increasingly encouraging on land traditionally known as Kenya’s food crop baskets. This discussion paper interrogates this trend in commercial sugarcane farming and warns on deepening food security threats if this industry is not controlled. Further ethical considerations that need to accompany commercial sugarcane farming are discussed based on research finding from Koyonzo, Lurambi, Nzoia and Chemelil in the greater western Kenya sugar belt. This paper thus argues in favour of dynamic policy and legislation to control expansion of sugarcane farming into areas known for their contribution to household and national food security. In addition sugar processing companies need to contribute to sustainability concerns by integrating establishment of indigenous forest cover and food crop production in their nucleus estates. Over all, it is hoped that this paper will stimulate debate on plantation crops that take much arable land away from food production, despite Kenya’s and Africa’s food insecurity situations; and thus relevant policies in favour of sustainable production systems.