Kenya’s sugar imports rise by 70% in the nine months to September on declining local production

KENYA – According to Kenya’s Sugar Directorate, Sugar imports in the nine months to September, grew by 70 percent compared with the same period last year as the county shipped in more of the sweetener to cover for local deficit.

Imports between January and September stood at 324,055 tonnes compared with 190,084 in the corresponding period last year reports Business Daily.

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Local production declined by 6 percent in the review period compared with last year following poor performance in most of the factories coupled with a shortage of raw material.

“Overall, sugar imports in January to September 2019 totalled 324,055 tonnes against 190,084 tonnes in the same period last year with this attributed to a significant increase in table sugar imports to bridge the rising domestic demand against the declining local production,” says the directorate.

The directorate notes that the continued closure of Mumias, Kwale and Chemelil sugar factories has had a huge impact on sugar production.

In July, Nzoia and Olepito Sugar Factories did not operate, thus depressing sugar production while Sony and Muhoroni crushed for only 10 and four days respectively.

“Currently, inadequate sugarcane for milling has negatively affected continued operation of sugar mills, therefore, the sustained decline in sugar production,” says the regulator.

Total sugar sales in the review period were 324,311 tonnes compared with 348,380 tonnes sold in the same period last year, a decline of 7 percent.

Total Sugar closing stock held by all the sugar factories at the end of September 2019 was 10,878 tonnes against 17,866 tonnes in September 2018.

Most of the State-owned companies have been performing dismally due to lack of sufficient capital, ageing machinery, mismanagement and political interference.

On the other hand, the private millers have installed new machines that are producing optimally and efficiently besides their private financial muscle.

Cane delivery to the factories dropped 12 percent in eight months to August compared with the corresponding period in 2019.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that cane delivered to factories in the review period stood at 2.9 million tonnes against 3.4 million tonnes at the same time last year.

Normally, Kenya is allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar annually from Comesa to bridge the deficit.

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