Kenya registers increase in sugar output as it gets extension on COMESA sugar import safeguards

KENYA – Kenya’s sugar production in the nine months to September has hit a four-year high reaching 459,972 metric tonnes, the highest performance over a similar period since 2016 when output was registered at 493,516 metric tonnes.

In comparison to the first three quarters of the previous year, the country’s production of the sweetener jumped by 37% from 336,114 metric tonnes achieved in 2019.

The increase in output, according to Business Daily is attributed to improved cane supply and higher factory efficiency, especially by the private millers.

Latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that 5.18 million metric tonnes of sugar cane were produced in the first nine months compared to the 3.4 million tonnes last year.


The improved production comes on the back of multiple efforts put forth by both the government and private sector players, aimed to revamp the ailing industry grappling with relatively high production costs and cheap imports.

One of such moves is the country imposing an import limit from COMESA member states at 250,000 tonnes for the year ending December 2020.

To this end Kenya made a request for a two-year extension for the protection from sugar imports from the trade bloc, saying increased imports could smother its sugar business, which is not competitive and has several loss-making millers struggling to stay afloat.

The safeguard was set to expire in February 2021 but COMESA has granted Kenya’s wish making it run to February 2023.

“The country will be allowed flexibility on the sugar safeguard allocated quota implementation during importation from Comesa member states.”


The extension was granted at the 41st COMESA Council of Ministers meeting, and comes with a myriad of conditions among them, to provide a detailed roadmap on how to enhance the sugar sector competitiveness during the extended safeguard period and ensure the import permit issuance process is transparent, fast and efficient.

The council also urged Kenya to give priority to COMESA originating sugar noting that the region produces enough to meet the deficit.

Kenya produces 600,000 metric tonnes of sugar a year, below the annual consumption of 800,000 tonnes.

“The country will be allowed flexibility on the sugar safeguard allocated quota implementation during importation from Comesa member states,” indicated a statement released by COMESA

Kenya is also required to provide the projected deficit in January of each year based on production and consumption data from ISO (International Standardisation Organisation).

The East African nation was further directed that any unavoidable full or partial suspension of COMESA quotas or of the East African Community import tariff for sugar, or interruption of preferential access established under this agreement, be preceded by prior consultation with affected parties.

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