KENYA – Kenya has decided to import 180,000 more metric tons of sugar to cushion consumers against the skyrocketing prices of the products after the recent duty-free sugar failed to curb soaring prices.

In 3 months from January, Kenya has had a sharp increase in sugar imports, moving to 93,000 tonnes against 46,000 in a similar period last year to cool off high retail prices of the commodity, which has not been the case.

In the new market review, a 2kg of sugar ranges between Kes 430 – Kes 480 at retail price, more than three times the normal price in the previous years, when the prices were high.

The government opened an import window in December that would see traders ship in 100,000 tonnes of sugar outside of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region to curb an imminent shortage in the country.

 The shortage has been attributed to acute sugarcane shortages, which millers say companies are operating at less than 30 percent of their installed capacity.

The National Assembly Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, led by committee chairperson John Mutunga, recently said the shortage is a result of poaching, lack of policy framework, and unhealthy competition from importers of cheap sugar.

“We are going to authorize the importation of 180,000 metric tons of sugar to cushion the consumers against skyrocketing prices, which is unfortunate because we suppose we need to be crushing sugar to sustain ourselves,” said Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi.

Linturi said Kenya has been forced to outsource from other markets as regional markets are experiencing similar shortages because of drought and short rains.

“The short-term measure is the importation of sugar within and outside COMESA to bring the price of sugar down because our mills are not producing and crushing enough,” he said.

“The only way to bring the cost of food down is to go back to the shamba and plant a few acres. Sugar will not come down if we don’t encourage our farmers to plant cane. If we do not revitalize our sugar factories to the mill, we expect to have shortages of sugar permanent.”

Dr. Mutunga pointed out there is a need to amend policies that will regulate the importation of sugarcane to protect local farmers who invest their resources and time on the farm.

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