Kenya’s private sector initiates revival plan for sugar industry to boost economy

KENYA – Kenya’s private sector has joined the pursuit of reviving the country’s ailing sugar industry, which faces a myriad of challenges, yet exhibits immense development and growth potential.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has launched the KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Strategic Plan, which seeks to guide the industry’s growth, resilience and sustainability. 

The five-year strategic plan provides a holistic framework for addressing the long-standing and emerging challenges facing the subsector.

It covers three strategic themes; Sugar Sub-Sector Policy and Advocacy; Research and Innovation and Value Chain; and Sub-Sector Development.

The three strategic themes have been cascaded into smart objectives, with corresponding strategies to enable the KAM Sugar Sub-Sector to realize its goals.

“The plan aims to guide the sugar industry to reposition itself competitively, foster the adoption of policies, and innovations that will result in an efficient and effective sugar industry and improve the connection between national policy priorities and sector-level actions.

“We are optimistic that the plan will help unlock the potential of the sugar industry and the players along the value chain,” said KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Chair, Ms Joyce Opondo.

Speaking during the launch KAM Chair, Mucai Kunyiha highlighted some of the challenges facing the industry to include: limited research and development, excess sugar importation, weak regulatory mechanisms and sugar dumping, hindering the industry’s effectiveness as an economic and social catalyst.

“Consequently, this has led to inadequate total production, and eventually difficulties in meeting market demand. It is therefore critical that we turn around the sugar industry, to make it competitive – locally, regionally and internationally,” said Kunyiha.

“The plan aims to guide the sugar industry to reposition itself competitively, foster the adoption of policies, and innovations that will result in an efficient and effective sugar industry and improve the connection between national policy priorities and sector-level actions.”

KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Chair – Ms Joyce Opondo

The strategic plan was developed following consultations with government and the sugar industry players.

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Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development CAS Dr. Lawrence Karanja, noted that Government remains committed to reviving the sugar industry.

“We remain cognizant of the headwinds hindering the Sugar Industry’s growth. As such, we reaffirm our commitment to developing solutions, to enhance the Kenyan Sugar Industry’s competitiveness. Remedying these solutions requires a multi-sectoral approach.

“This is why we continue to partner with different Ministries and Agencies, to regulate the sub-sector, control sugar imports as well as develop and promote sugarcane value chains,” explained Dr. Karanja.

The KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Strategic Plan is aligned to the Sugar Task Force Report, Government development blueprints, Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the Ministry of Agriculture’s policy and operational frameworks.

Some of the recommendations that featured in the National Sugar Task Force report launched in February 2020 are re-introduction of the sugar levy, privatization of public sugar mills to enhance their efficiency and the enactment of the Sugar Act.

Sugar consumption in the East African nation has grown steadily over the years outpacing domestic production.

The country is yet to reach self-sufficiency in production, as several mills continue to operate inefficiently and below capacity.

According to a recent report by USDA, sugar production in Kenya is expected to increase by 8 percent in Marketing Year (MY) 2021/22 to 650,000 metric tonnes (MT) due to an increase in sugarcane yields following good weather conditions, better agronomic and harvesting practices.

While consumption is expected to increase by 5 percent to 1 million MT as hotels and restaurants re-open following COVID-19.

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