KENYA- Sugar prices in Kenya are up 61.4%, rising at the fastest rate than any other food commodity, according to recently released data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

In comparison, the price of beans rose by 27.9%, while cooking oil and maize increased by 18.5% and 9.6% respectively.

The higher than normal surge in sugar prices can be partly attributed to millers operating below capacity due to insufficient supply of mature cane. 

The latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows total sugar produced by millers dropped by 31% to 332, 034 tonnes in the seven months to July from 482,871 tonnes recorded a year earlier.

Data from the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) also indicates that total sugarcane milled by all sugar factories dropped by 10 percent to 395,232 tonnes in July 2023 from 436,694 tonnes in June.

Sugar made by all the 16 sugar factories operating in Kenya similarly decreased to 33,328 tonnes from 34,373 tonnes in June, according to AFA.

With the impending shortfall of mature cane to crush local sugar millers are reported to have resorted to crushing immature cane forcing the government to suspend sugarcane harvesting till November.

At the moment, some millers are reducing crushing schedules to mop enough mature cane while others are temporarily closing down for maintenance and system upgrades.

Sony Sugar faces closure as cane supply dwindles

The cane shortage is hitting some millers hard with state-owned South Nyanza Sugar Company (SONY) said to be facing closure as cane supplies drop drastically.

Without adequate supplies, Sony Sugar is reportedly waiting for up to seven or more days to run its machines as the cane is being collected from various farms.

The factory management noted that they are likely to close business soon unless farmers make urgent efforts to increase their cane deliveries to boost crushing and production of white sugar.

“It is worrying that the management is now forced to switch off the machines for up to seven days waiting for farmers to deliver their produce to the plant before starting crashing again,” Sony Sugar Board Chairman Jared Kopiyo said.

In addition to cane supply woes, the company also owes farmers, workers, supplies, and other service providers billions of shillings accrued in three years due to its low operation.

We are working hard to ensure that the level of debts owed to farmers, suppliers and other service providers are reduced drastically by the end of the year,” Sony Sugar Company Managing Director (MD) Stephen Ligawa assured shareholders.

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