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MPs want sugar import licenses cancelled

The Council of Governors now wants all sugar imports permits suspended until the issue of heavy metal deposits allegedly found in the commodity is dealt with sufficiently.

Council’s Agriculture Committee chairperson Okoth Obado said it was wrong to risk consumers’ lives. “We want the State to stop imports of cheap sugar into the local markets. After all, it is also occasioning glut here and affecting local sugar production and sales,” said Obado, who is also the Migori Governor.

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Obado spoke amid ongoing debate that some cartels in the sugar industry could be working in cahoots with some authorities to indulge in the illicit sugar trade.

The local sugar industry has not had a rosy affair, with the imports quota sanctioned by the industry regulator – Sugar Directorate last year.

“Imports, if not regulated, will kill the local industry, and we are concerned about the licensing, which has to be carefully monitored to rid the sector of cartels,” he said.

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The governor wondered how ‘poisonous substances’ could find their way into consumers’ products, more so sugar, which is consumed daily by millions of Kenyans.

Even as investigations continue to ascertain how the ‘foreign materials’ could have found their way into the imported sugar, the governor called for a ban on sugar imports.

Speaking to The Standard, Obado said there cannot be any excuse for gambling with the lives of Kenyans as the concerned authorities watch.

“We want the suspects to be arrested and brought to book as we enforce standards to regulate the sugar industry,” the governor told the Press in an interview, yesterday.

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Several MPs drawn from the sugar growing regions in Nyanza yesterday called on the Government to cancel permits of all importers.

The MPs Tom Odege (Nyatike), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Paul Abuor (Rongo), and Walter Owino of Awendo claimed that importation of the commodity was hurting the local sugar industry. “Why should we encourage local farmers to grow more sugar when we are ignoring local produce for imported produce?” posed Nyamita.

Abuor asked why there were many leading malls and supermarkets selling branded sugar, ye nobody was asking where the factories were.

Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo and his Nyando counterpart Jared Okello also demanded sanity in the sugar industry.

“We want to know the factories where these supermarkets draw their sugar from and when they started production, as we intensify the purge on illicit sugar imports,” said Mr Koyoo.

Koyoo said they would not be silent while the industry was at crossroads, yet more than 8 million people derived their livelihoods, directly or indirectly, from the sector. The Nyando sugar-belt MPs called for prosecution of businessmen behind imports of adulterated sugar.

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