Sugar cane farmers request audit of Kenya sugar shortage

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Sugar cane farmers request audit of Kenya sugar shortage


A sugarcane farmer in Kanyabala Location in Homa Bay sub-county on August 24, 2021. He is among the farmers whose canes have dried up due to a late harvest. PHOTO | GEORGE ODIWUOR | NMG

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Summary

  • The Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association said that despite doubling the number of operational factories to 10 in recent years, the annual deficit remains static at 200,000 metric tonnes.
  • The association said that based on daily crushed cane volumes of more than 10,000 tonnes, the sugar deficit should not exceed 50,000 metric tonnes.

Sugar cane producers have called for a new audit of the country’s sugar deficit, saying outdated deficit data could facilitate higher import volumes at the expense of local producers.

The Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association said that despite doubling the number of operational factories to 10 in recent years, the annual deficit remains static at 200,000 metric tonnes.

The association said that based on daily crushed cane volumes of more than 10,000 tonnes, the sugar deficit should not exceed 50,000 metric tonnes.

“When we only had five sugar factories in Kenya, the deficit was 200,000 metric tonnes. We are simply asking why with 10 cane crushing plants, the deficit is the same, ”said Secretary General Richard Ogendo.

“We are concerned that this may be abused to justify importing duty-free sugar into the country.”

The director of the Sugar Directorate of the Agriculture and Food Authority, Willis Audi, however, argued that the deficit remained high due to increased demand.

He said Kenya’s per capita sugar consumption in 2018 was 15.8 kg, but has now grown to over 18 kg.

“As the population grows, so does the consumption of sugar. Total consumption is 900,000 metric tonnes per year while industrial sugar demand is 150,000 metric tonnes, ”said Mr. Audi.

“We don’t have factories producing industrial sugar. We had Miwani Sugar Company, which has since collapsed, which means we have to import all the industrial sugar.

Official data shows that Kenya’s annual sugar production in 2020 was 603,800 tonnes against a consumption of 1.04 million tonnes, meaning the country had to import 444,500 tonnes.

Kenya, however, imported 981,000 tonnes of sugar between May and December last year after the duty-free window opened to fill a local shortage that caused prices to soar.

Sugar imports from the Common Market block of Eastern and Southern Africa, where the country imports a large portion of the merchandise, are capped at 210,000 tonnes, with duty-free imports previously capped at 300,000 tonnes but revised downward earlier this year by the Treasury to 210,000 tonnes. to avoid flooding the market with cheap sweeteners.

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Rachel J. Bradford