KENYA – A State agency has defended the Government’s decision to allow licensed firms to import sugar into the country.
Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) said the move would cushion Kenyans from rising prices of the commodity. The agency said the country is experiencing an acute sugar shortage that has resulted in a sharp increase in prices.
The figures indicate that the ex-factory sugar prices are between Sh5,000 and Sh5,100 per 50kg, up from Sh3,356 in March.
According to statistics released by KSB, by Friday closing stocks at local sugar mills were 6,613 metric tonnes amounting to three days’ consumption. Local consumption stands at about 2,000 metric tonnes a day.
“The price hike is in response to the sudden drop in sugar stocks and regulated availability of imported table sugar while retail sugar prices are at an average of Sh117 per kg, up from Sh100 per kilo in February 2014,” said KSB Chief Executive Officer Rosemary Mkok.
According to Ms Mkok, the Government allowed the importation of sugar to bridge the gap that has been worsened by the closure of four millers for annual maintenance.
The below par performance of Mumias Sugar Company resulting in its unscheduled closure last month for early maintenance to allow a build-up of raw material, and delayed commissioning of the Kwale Sugar Company licensed in July with a crushing capacity of 3,000 tonnes of cane a day, have been cited as some of the reasons behind the drop.
The 50 importers of table sugar and 37 for refined sugar so far licensed are registered through an open process, but only 10 are cleared to import sugar.