State reduces sugar imports in bid to protect local millers
Sugar imports have dropped by 75 per cent as the regulator moves in to control the volume shipped in the country to protect local millers who are currently holding huge stocks.
Data from the Sugar Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture shows the volume of the sweetener imported has dropped to an average of 7,000 tonnes a month from highs of 29,000 tonnes under ordinary circumstances.
Normally, Kenya is allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar annually from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), which is spread across the year to about 30,000 tonnes monthly.
“We are regulating the imports coming in the country to ensure that the volumes that we license in a month are manageable so that we do not affect the local millers,” said Solomon Odera, head of Sugar Directorate.
The National Treasury scrapped duty on the commodity last year following a sharp decline in production that saw the price of sugar go up to Sh400 per two kilo packet, allowing traders to import more than 900,000 tonnes of the commodity.
Mr Odera said they cannot lock out imports from Comesa region because it will be a violation of the business bloc agreement that allows other countries to export sugar to Kenya.
Millers have been claiming that the directorate has been allowing more sugar in the country, a move that has seen them stuck with huge volumes of sugar in the factories.
A report from the directorate showed the volume held by millers last month grew from 12,000 in January to hit 13,224 in February.